Welcome to the first installment of the Trailer Park, a place for me to review the good, the bad and the ugly trailers of horror movies past...
The Trailer Park: Dorian Gray
The trailer’s depiction of London is reminiscent of Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, with big sweeps of the foggy industrial mecca rendered with CGI, coupled with claustrophobic street close-ups. Focusing on Dorian, I love that the only difference between innocent Dorian pre-portrait and the jaded libertine he will become is the removal of a schoolboy hat and tie.
The trailer flirts with the idea of masks and the deceit of outer appearances, an apt subject considering Dorian’s beauty is only an illusion. Dorian confesses to a blind priest “this is not my true face” and then glimpses himself in a silver serving tray at party where the guests are all in masks.
Collin Firth, whose credits include Bridget Jones’s Diary and Shakespeare in Love is the decadent Lord Henry who leads Dorian on a Blakean journey along the road of excess to the palace of wisdom.
The trailer plays with Lord Henry’s line of “There are only two things worth having, youth and beauty.” The original quote from the book is simply, “Youth is the one thing worth having.” The filmic Lord Henry distinguishes youth and beauty as the two essentials in life, a reflection of his later statements in the novel that “When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it,” and then life will no longer be worth living.
Dorian’s desires are depicted as strictly hetero if not a little kinky with the orgy of women and red blindfold. It leads me to wonder if there will be any hint of the kind of homoeroticism present in the book or if they’ll just turn Barnes into a lady’s man.
I enjoy the dynamic between Firth and Barnes as one of creator and creature, somewhat like Colin Clive and Boris Karloff in Frankenstein. An aged Lord Henry gapes in horror at the forever youthful Dorian and asks “What are you?” to which Dorian replies “I am what you made me!” Though Lord Henry didn’t make Dorian out of spare body parts or with the use of electricity, he is certainly responsible for planting the seed of corruption.
The trailer does harp a little too much on the consequences of Dorian’s actions. In the voice over at the beginning and end of the trailer Dorian reiterates, “I’ve done dreadful things, monstrous things and there will be a price” and “I have seen my soul and there will be a price” Okay, we get it. Nothing’s free and every bad boy will eventually get his comeuppance. Drop it already and bring on the raunch.
Unfortunately, the trailer also gives up the end of the film, with a transformed Dorian writhing in flames. All told it seems like this film might be more conservative than other versions of Wilde’s novel, with Dorian severely punished for his decadent and sinful behavior.
About author: Monster Scholar
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