Review: The Happy Prince (15)

Arnojya Shree discusses literary figure Oscar Wilde in The Happy Prince

Arnojya Shree
23rd June 2020
Image Credit: IMDB

Being an English Literature student, my fascination for the classics is a habit much too ordinary to pinpoint. However, more than literature, I have fancied the prominent literary figures from the previous centuries.

Oscar Wilde is one such man amongst them. He stands out in my eyes for the very reason he had been an outcast in the world during his time; a man who dared in the name of his desires, no matter the cost. The consequence of which has been and still remains an act of punishment and disgust in our society. In a world of fitting into the common, the uncommon are the ones who dare to be human, remaining true to their passions and it’s those men who are worthy of respect above all. 

The film assumes a melancholic tone as Wilde reflects upon his time in prison, his broken family, dismantled reputation and life.

The Happy Prince, directed by Rupert Everett who also stars in it as our beloved Wilde, does the most brilliant justice in his acting, writing and directing abilities. He brings out the passionate and free-spirited heart of Wilde in his portrayal with utmost sincerity. The film pays homage to Oscar Wilde, a prominent Irish poet and playwright in late Victorian England who had been sentenced to jail bearing the charges of being a sodomite.

The film assumes a melancholic tone as Wilde reflects upon his time in prison, his broken family, dismantled reputation and life. Contradictory to its title, quite intentionally I would presume, we travel through Europe with Wilde as he proceeds to lose what is left of himself in cocaine, alcohol and numerous lovers. The villas, valleys and beaches of Europe add to the serene beauty and romanticism of the film’s aesthetic which had been missing in Wilde’s life.

Image Credit: IMDB

The vanity of Bosie played by Colin Morgan gives an edgy delight to the movie, whose splendid performance seems to have manifested a 19th Century Narcissus. The earnest camaraderie of Reggie played by Colin Forth and Edwin Thomas reflect the rare yet reciprocated love in Wilde’s life and the film. The narrative flows like a ballad, with a poetic direction to it which reflects the literary genius of Wilde. Even though the film tends to focus upon the agonizing last few years of Wilde’s life, it makes up by paying a tribute to his artistic brilliance by weaving it into the dialogues. 

On a whole, the film appears to be a eulogy to Oscar Wilde, one which is written and performed with admiration and apology at its core. Within its subtexts, in rather sentimental tones, it appreciates and honours Wilde for his human more than his genius, something which Victorian society had failed to do. 

Rating: 4/5 stars

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