Sunday, September 8, 2019

Portrait of Dorian Grey (1945) directed by Albert lewin

A classic film from a classic novel that explores the obsession with youth and beauty and how they can hide evil, hideous interiors. Basically a horror story, Dorian grey is a young beautiful boy who, while having his portrait painter falls under the corrupting ideas of the artist and his friend. He realizes that youth is not forever and makes wish on an Egyptian cat statue that he will remain the same while the portrait ages and changes. This  wish is granted and as his desires and actions become more and more corrupt and terrible, he finds he must hide the image in a locked room so no one can see how he "really" looks. 

The films follow the books fairly faithfully and the cast, which includes a very young Angela Lansbury as Sybil Vane is great. Hurd hatfield as Dorian looks the part. Innocent, you, pretty and manages to give the impression that is all a mask as he becomes colder and callous as the decades pass by. 

The cinematography is decent but if you see this film, be sure to see the retired blu-ray version that has the technicolour insets. The first time we see the painting, it's a beautiful colour shot and when we see it later... let's say the portrait is much less beautiful but the image is stunning and shocking in colour. So shocking, in fact, I won't put an image of it here in case you have never seen the movie, it's really better to first see it context. 

I had not watched this movie in along while and it was surprising how much I had forgotten, not in plot details but how they worked themselves out. I like how we see the corrupted version of the painting long before the film ends so we have an idea of how "wicked" the lovely Dorian has been all these years. We don't see many of his deeds but his treatment of Sybil Vane is so devastating and cold, you can easily believe the painting is relflecting Mr. Gray's  soiled soul. 

This is the best of the adaptions of Oscar Wildes book that i have seen and it focuses on all the right things while later versions use the story as an excuse to show more explicit sex and violence, this film opts for letting the viewer imagine the corruption that can happen when you can place all your sins somewhere out of sight. 


T' said...

I didn't know this movie existed. I might have to look it up. Thanks, Vince!

Behemoth media said...

It really is a good movie... and that painting of the corrupt Dorian Grey is terrifying!