The Importance of Being Earnest Play/Film Comparitive Essay

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The Importance of Being Earnest
Play/Film Comparative Essay

Oliver Parker’s (2002) film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is sadly completely consumed by the romantic comedy style, masking Wilde’s key concerns and detracting from important comic elements of the play. This can be observed through the varying representations of characters, the film’s lack of contextual jokes, the more prominent sub-plot between Dr Chasuble and Miss Prism, the addition of music and the way in which dialogue, while remaining true to the play, has lost meaning in the film.

In the play, Wilde achieves most of his humour through the wonderfully satiric characters, however in the film Parker represents them as being far more
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For example, there Parker has written up an entire scene where Prism and Chasuble are in the vestry, devoted entirely to them and their relationship. While Parker has emphasised the romance between these two characters he has ignored any other relevance of their characters in a comic sense. Dr Chasuble’s explanation of how his “sermon on the meaning of the mana in the wilderness can be adapted to almost any occasion” and Prism’s jibe at the poorer classes having too many babies are just two of the many jokes that have been left out of the film. Not only do these characters add comically, but they also demonstrate some of Wilde’s views, such as his view on the church, as well as his view on what is moral behaviour. Parker, in his romantic emphasis on Prism and Chasuble’s relationship, has ignored all other aspects of their characters, and uses them solely to strengthen the film as a romantic comedy. Another element of film he uses to strengthen the romantic comedy atmosphere is music.

The addition of music is a necessary for film, however, the style of music Parker has chosen creates an absurd, spontaneous atmosphere which, while suiting a romantic comedy, hinders Wilde’s more witty humour. From the opening sequence the music sets the pace and atmosphere (with its bouncy, staccato, piano chord progression) of a light hearted, ridiculous natured film. While the play is generally light