The Importance of Being Earnest Books-to-Movie Report

I realize I am a little late in posting this but my life has been a little crazy of late with school.  Now on to the fun stuff! Did you watch the movie? Read the play? What did you think? Now remember we are discussing the 2002 film version of the play. Let’s discuss some of the questions I posted in the intro.

*What is the significance of the difference of the city and the country?

In most Victorian literature (and even earlier than that) there is usually an innocence associated with the country and a certain depravity associated with the city but Wilde doesn’t conform to this traditional thematic element.   The first hint we get of it is by the explanation that Jack comes from the country to the city pretending to be his brother and Algy goes from the city to the country pretending to visit Bunbury when he needs to escape his creditors.  Once the main characters are in the country, they don’t change their way of behaving or the lengths they go to enact faleshoods upon each other.

“When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people.”- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 1

*What do you think about some of the leeway the film took getting across a point without adding dialog (tatoo and knight in shining armor)?

The first time I saw the film, after reading the play, I was amazed and amused at what the director added to the play without changing or adding to the dialog. The daydreams of Cecily, where Algernon wears the suit of armor, fits so perfectly with the fact that she keeps a journal and she had written letters to herself from the fictitious Earnest.  I also loved how they were able to portray Algy being aware of the dream but accepting it in the scene where his head is resting in Cecily’s lap and he looks down and just raises his eyebrows at the fact that he is in a suit of armor. So great without a single word to acknowledge the transformation! I laughed outloud at the end when Cecily is suddenly sitting on a horse in the middle of the house.

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 2

*What do you think of the casting?

I have to admit I love everyone in this version of the play. Hands down my favorite is Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell! The warning of Caroline where she explains that her mother has a tendency to unexpectedly enter a room without warning is carried of brilliantly by Judi Dench, especially when she suddenly arrives at the country house.  Although I do love Rupert Everett as Algernon and Colin Firth as Jack, especially when they sing the song to get the girls to come down.  Anna Massey does a great job as the retiring mousy Miss Prism and Reese Witherspoon as Cecily. What do you think, could they have improved a character with a different actor(ess)?

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.”-Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 2

*Do you have a favorite line?

I love almost every line in this movie and have a hard time narrowing it down to one. I have placed several of my favorites in the above discussions and here are a few more for yours (and mine) enjoyment.

“London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.”- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 3

“To speak frankly, I am not in favour of long engagements. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other’s character before marriage, which I think is never advisable.”

“I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.”- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 1

What did you think? Did you like reading a play for a change? Let me know what you think! Sean Monahan Authentic Jersey

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