About the film
Director: Rupert Everett
Actors: Colin Firth, Emily Watson, Rupert Everett, Colin Morgan, Edwin ThomasNamed for Oscar Wilde’s short story “The Happy Prince,” a children’s tale whose allegorical prose is deftly woven throughout here, the film is set primarily between 1897, when Oscar Wilde was released from prison for gross indecency and 1900, when he succumbed to meningitis. Rupert Everett’s biopic brings power and empathy to Wilde’s final years; exiled on the continent as the one-time toast of London society, hits rock bottom and we mean bottom.
In a cheap Parisian hotel room Wilde lies on his death bed. Under the microscope of death he reviews the failed attempt to reconcile with his long suffering wife Constance (Emily Watson), the ensuing reprisal of his fatal love affair with Lord Alfred Douglas (Colin Morgan) known as Bosie and the warmth and devotion of Robbie Ross, (Edwin Thomas) who tried and failed to save him from himself. Travelling through Wilde's final act and journeys through England, France and Italy, the transience of lust is laid bare and the true riches of love are revealed. It is a portrait of the dark side of a genius who lived and died for love.
Everett has a long history with Wilde throughout his career, notably as the idle bachelors Oscar wrote in An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest. But it’s here that the writer-director-star truly gets to grips with the grisly decay of the author’s life.
A lush, strings-heavy score by Oscar winner Gabriel Yared (“The English Patient”) and first-rate costume design by Giovanni Casalnuovo and Maurizio Millenotti are additional highlights.
“Who are you?” he said.
“I am the Happy Prince.”
“Why are you weeping then?” asked the swallow; “you have quite drenched me.”
– Oscar Wilde
The Happy Prince