“The Happy Prince”: The Not-So-Happy Life of an Irish Literary Giant

When I watched “The Importance of Being Earnest” movie in my junior year as an English Literature undergraduate student back then in 2004, little did I know that the author whose name was Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Will Wilde was in fact a queer writer from Ireland. A prolific artist during his short-lived life, he was known for his literary works, from poets, plays, to prose (novels and short stories).

As Rupert Everett’s directorial debut, the biopic movie tells us the tragic end of life of the renowned author. Here he was depicted as sickly, old and broke. So pitiful to see such a celebrity and prominent figure living a horrible life far away from home. He passed away as a miserable man in the age of 46 in Paris after having lived a tumultuous period of life.

Born in a wealthy and famous family, Wilde was no stranger to worldly pleasure. He knew too well how to have fun. To show his hedonism, I remember his scene with scantily clad young men dancing, and him playing the piano joyfully and how he loved drinking liqor till drop.

Everett’s acting is raw and wild (without ‘e’). And I am not kidding by saying that. He had to appear stark naked and be forced to get his head clean shaven and bathed by an officer to visualize the downfall of Oscar Wilde after being accused of committing the crime of sodomy in his golden days.

In the country where LGBTQ issues have become incredibly hot, super sensitive topics, you cannot expect to watch this at the nearby XXI cinemas.The 105-minute movie contains some nudity – male nudity to be specific. Besides that, I’m also exposed to some profanity, drug use and sexual references. Some private parts of the male actors are also shocking if you’re a hardliner, puritan muslim.

As a Jakartan, I would probably say this is not the right time to watch this. But considering that Wilde’s fans would not mind being rebellious, anytime is the right time to watch the movie and celebrate the wild, free spirit of this Irish poet and playwright that the world of literature shall never forget.

This movie acts as a reminder that even though life can be really short, all you can do is live it to its fullest, no matter how sweet and bitter it can become. Just enjoy the ride.

Just like the swallow in his short story, Oscar Wilde has fulfilled his life calling, that is to do his best with the talents he had. (*/)

“The Happy Prince” based on my amateurish review holds an approval rating of 80%. (*/)


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