Name any classical novel, and there have probably been no less than 20 adaptations of it since the turn of the twentieth century. You really can’t blame Hollywood for its continued love affair with making these adaptations, however: period films are fun, flashy and dramatic, and as time passes directors have the unique opportunity to add their own twists to well-known tales in order to explore various modern themes.
As part of this grand tradition, there is a new adaptation of a literary classic on which to report. The Picture of Dorian Gray, the iconic novel by Oscar Wilde, will be developed into a film by Lionsgate in the upcoming months. While this is the fourth adaptation to be produced about the novel within the last decade alone, this one might be among the more interesting remakes.
Not only will this version be directed by Annie Clark, the experimental rock star also known as St. Vincent, but the titular hedonist will now be played by a woman.
If you skipped The Picture of Dorian Gray during class, here’s a SparkNotes summary for you: Dorian Gray is a young aristocrat whose incomparable beauty enraptures the hearts, minds and loins of everyone he meets, including an artist who captures his image in a grand portrait. As he grows older and begins to realize that his looks (and the privileges they afford him) will fade, Gray decides to sell his soul in a deal that will allow him to stay young and beautiful forever. In exchange, his portrait will grow old and tainted by his wicked lifestyle in real life. Unfortunately, Gray’s lifestyle becomes increasingly sinful and dangerous for the vain man and his unsuspecting lovers throughout his extended life.
This adaptation will be the feature directorial debut for Clark, whose limited but impressive previous work includes a segment in an all-female horror anthology that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Joining Clark in the film’s development will be screenplay writer David Birke. Birke wrote last year’s controversial French film Elle, which follows a complicated female character as she attempts to navigate a violently misogynistic and patriarchal society.
Given this new creative team, it will be interesting to see how this narcissistic tragedy accommodates a female lead as Dorian Gray. There is plenty of opportunity to explore themes such as sexism and the societal pressure that forces women to dangerously pursue unrealistic demands of youth and beauty. Conversely, we could get an adaptation akin to Gone Girl, and experience all the wickedness that a woman can muster with little justification for her actions except pure, refreshing selfishness.
What do you think about a female version of The Picture of Dorian Gray? Do you think it will be an exciting examination of gender and attraction in modern society, or an ill-conceived attempt at being interesting? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Source: Hollywood Reporter