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Starring Rupert Everett, who also wrote and directed, this is the story of the last days of Oscar Wilde. Released from Reading Gaol, he leaves England never to return and wanders around Europe penniless and ill.
Described by critic Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian as ‘a powerful parable of passion and redemption’ the film follows Wilde as he goes into exile in Europe following his release from prison after the conviction for “gross indecency”. This was the result of his indiscreet affair with Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, whose enraged, reactionary father, the Marquess of Queensberry, had provoked Wilde’s disastrous libel action following an accusation of his “posing as a somdomite” (sic).
Out of prison, Wilde had horrified his friends by resuming the destructive relationship with the exquisite, duplicitous Bosie (Colin Morgan), which causes the termination of the tiny allowance from his humiliated ex-wife Constance (Emily Watson) and endangers Bosie’s own income, leaving them nothing to live on. Oscar treats his loyal allies Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas) and Reggie Turner (Colin Firth) with ungrateful negligence, but Everett imagines him, in extremis, befriending a young Paris street boy and his tough kid brother and whimsically holding them spellbound with his fairytale The Happy Prince. In happier times, he would recite to his equally entranced sons this story of a statue who allows a swallow to denude him of all his gold to feed the poor.
In Everett’s hands, the tale becomes an ambiguous parable for Wilde’s passion and (possible) redemption, the unhappy prince who makes a lonely discovery that love is the only thing worth worshipping.
Walsingham Picture Palace Walsingham Parish Hall, 14 High Street, Walsingham NR22 6AA
Tickets on the door: adult £4, 25 and under, £2
Programme begins at 7.30pm Doors open 7pm for ticket sales and refreshments.