Following on from my recent post about adaptations and free from reading revision-type books, I found myself racing through The Importance of Being Earnest yesterday. The Colin Firth/Rupert Everett film is well known, so having really enjoyed the play (I think it’s the fastest I’ve ever read anything) I was eager to watch it straight away.
I’m happy to say that it is a brilliant adaptation of a brlliant play. Firth and Everett are both perfect in their roles, topped only by the incomparable Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell.
The only real changes to the script were some shifts in the timeline, aided by the freedom a film has over a stage play. The cinematography is clever too, with Cecily’s fantasies adding humour to an already hilarious script. It’s pretty much impossible to improve on Wilde’s writing and luckily Screenwriter Oliver Parker doesn’t mess about with it, keeping most lines in tact and just adding a few new ones which blend seemlessly with Wilde’s style. The result is a great portrayal of Wilde’s dry wit and cutting satire.
The most notable difference was the addition of a song, performed by our male leads. Those of a weak disposition, be warned, you will be exposed to Colin firth singing, and I’m still having counselling after Mamma Mia. Luckily in this instance the duet is performed with much passion, little accuracy and tongue firmly in cheek. especially if you carry on listening throughout the credits.
Both play and film are very good, a great example of Wilde’s genius if Dorian Gray hasn’t quite managed it for you. I think in this case, it doesn’t really matter whether you read or watch it first, as the adaptation is so close, as long as you do both!