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The Importance of Being Earnest: Play Movie (2002)

The movie The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) is based on a well-known play by Oscar Wilde. Thus, the director of the movie Oliver Parker proposes viewers an original approach to the plot and a modern vision of the problem of human morality, identity and fair personal relationships. The movie is centered around two main characters, John Worthing and Algernon Moncrueff. John makes a trip to London but decides to keep secret his real name and background. In order to attract a woman, he calls himself Earnest but he is unmasked at the end of the story. Oliver Parker follows a modern vision of the play trying to appeal to new generation of viewers thus his plot and scenario lacks accuracy and original moral appeal proposed by Oscar Wilde.

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The main similarity between two versions is irony and unique usage of satire. In The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde underlines comic and dramatic details. He does this in order to attract viewers and process with deductive nature of his work. In contrast to the movie, his play is can be seen as a drama in spite of the fact that readers think of it as comedy. The drama is evident in characters behavior patterns and their strange double lives. Although the characters of Wilde are linked into the past and, their positive introduction is just Wilde’s ironic device.

In contrast to Wilde, the movie is based on comic elements and facts but lacks serious moral appeal and principles. In them one of the moral value, the movie does not teach audience but entertain it. In The Importance of Being Earnest, the author discusses many social problems which are not his affair, and allow Wilde to create a unique settings and scenes. Instead of entertaining readers, he educates them with passions of which he knows much: he devotes himself to the moral principles of which he is a master. In contrast to the movie, Wilde introduces only one character at a time. The result is a ironic setting which is one of the glories of the stylistic means. Wise to the ways of life and of the man and eager to school any naive listener, Wilde play becomes the voice of decades. He can be counted on to add a philosophical edge to discussion around him; no subject escapes his keen commentary.

A chief irony in the movie is a double nature of the main character and his trick with changing identity. Although the play is essentially a succession of stories, eagerly related, one character does not participate. Contrary to Wilde’s plans, the movie seems to find meaning only through Worthing relationships with each of the character in the movie. Ironically the little that is revealed about his past seeps into the play through conversations between certain men who claim to know merely portions of story or through his unexplained emotional attachments to others. One is left feeling that there is much more to this woman and regretful that she does not get to tell it.

The movie describes her narrow escape from being committed to a mental institution and her eventual conversion to the doctrines of Wilde. Reading the play, readers have no choice but to smile at some of the dramatic moments as they do at any other comic situation in our life. Thus, the movie is based on comic elements but it does not appeal to emotions of viewers. Despite the dramatic circumstances of life, the main character is far superior to those who snub him; he still has the warrior spirit needed to challenge the white power structure, no matter what it does to wrong him.

In the movie, the main character is depicted a cynic man but the play portrays him as a comic character who falls in love with a beautiful woman. Wilde’s cynicism is an outgrowth of the numerous clashing ideologies of this politically charged era. One also hears in his frequent condemnations the voice of Wilde, who also chose to demonstrate his nationalist fervor with little fanfare. Despite the flurry of consciousnessraising activities, Worthing notes that no singular effective strategy had been adopted to hide his true identity. The irony has changed since Wilde’s times. Indeed, the abundance of concepts available to people paradoxically did more to promote dissent than to instill solidarity. The movie considers Worthing’s role to be extremely important, since his presence, as well as his death, in some way affects the majority of the other characters. Although Gwendolen is virtually an enigma, She manages to expose a tender side of her stoic personality. She exuded a tender, maternal concern for this man and, frequently against lie, showed him compassion (Wilde 154).

In sum, the movie adaptation does not reflect the original moral values and appeal of the play. It simplifies the play and adds modern principles and values such as double identity and new settings. In contrast to Wilde’s play, the movie concentrates on actions and behavior of characters but it does not educate and teach the audience.

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Works Cited

Wilde, O. The Importance of Being Earnest. Dover Publications, 1990.

The Importance of Being Earnest. 2000. dir. by O. Parker.. DVD. Criterion.

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