UK Film Council funds remake of Oscar Wilde’s classic novel


Mumbai: The UK Film Council’s Premiere Fund has awarded £500,000 of National Lottery funding to Dorian Gray for a film, which is a take on Oscar Wilde’s classic novel A Picture of Dorian Gray. The film is directed by Oliver Parker.

The film boasts a British cast led by Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Rebecca Hall and Ben Chaplin. Other cast members are Rachel Hurd-Wood, Fiona Shaw, Emilia Fox, Maryam D’Abo, Pip Torrens, Douglas Henshall, Caroline Goodall, Michael Culkin, Johnny Harris and newcomer Max Irons, son of Jeremy Irons.

When strikingly handsome yet naive Dorian Gray (Barnes) arrives in Victorian London, he is drawn into the hedonistic whirlwind of the city by the charismatic Lord Henry Wotton (Firth). Henry’s friend, artist Basil Hallward (Chaplin) paints a portrait of Dorian to capture the full power of his youthful beauty.

As he descends further into a debauched and corrupt existence, Dorian is haunted by his portrait which begins to age and morph, reflecting his moral decline. Forced by his own evil actions, Dorian flees the country, returning 25 years later. But will he get one last chance for redemption and escape with his life?

The screenplay has been developed by Toby Finlay, whose innovative and inspired take on the original novel has created a fresh script with a new character; the feisty Emily Wotton (Hall), Lord Wotton’s daughter, bringing in a new dynamic to the relationships featured in Wilde’s novel.

The film is directed by BAFTA nominee Parker who has again joined forces with Oscar-nominated producer Barnaby Thompson. Parker and Thompson most recently collaborated on St Trinian’s, the highest grossing independent British film of the last ten years, and previously worked together on successful Oscar Wilde screen adaptations The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband.

The film is an Ealing Studios presentation of a Fragile Film backed by Prescience, Aramid and the UK Film Council with Momentum Pictures distributing in the UK and Ealing Studios International selling the international rights. Alliance Films has also acquired the film for Canada (Alliance Films) and Spain (Aurum).

UK Film Council’s Premiere Fund head Sally Caplan said, ‘We are very pleased to be supporting Dorian Gray. This is a fantastic new take on a British classic which showcases the established expertise of Parker and the excellent emerging talent of Finlay. We are looking forward to seeing an exciting psychological thriller that has been innovatively adapted to bring a fresh new appeal to audiences."

Other projects currently supported by the Premiere Fund (and also the UK Film Council’s Development Fund) include Triangle, a psychological thriller set inside the Bermuda Triangle from British director Christopher Smith (Creep, Severance, both also co-funded by the UK Film Council). Jess (Melissa George), a young single mother, is invited to join her friend Greg (Michael Dorman) for a day aboard his sailboat with friends. Disaster strikes when a violent storm causes the boat to capsize. As the survivors cling to the upturned hull, salvation arrives in the form of a massive ocean liner that appears through the fog.

Triangle is written and directed by British filmmaker Christopher Smith and produced by Dan Films’ Jason Newmark and Julie Baines in the UK, and Chris Brown from Pictures In Paradise in Australia. It will be distributed worldwide by Icon Entertainment International.