Speaking on his new film “The Happy Prince,” Rupert Everett analyzes why Irish writer Oscar Wilde is a “Christ-like” figure.
British actor Rupert Everett believes that Irish literary icon Oscar Wilde was something of a “Christ-like” figure, comparing the poet and playwright to Jesus Christ himself in new movie “The Happy Prince.”
In his directorial debut, Everett has both written a new imagining of the final days of Oscar Wilde and himself stars as Wilde in this new telling the author’s exile to Naples and Paris.
“He’s an interesting person, as a Christ figure, because the idea of Christ is half human and half God and in one sense, Oscar was a great genius but also in some periods of his life, he was an idiot,” Everett told Vulture Magazine of “The Happy Prince.”
“I think it was that mixture that is Christ-like about him and very touching.
“Also he was crucified in a way, in a similar way to Christ, and then was born again, as was Christ, after his death with thanks to the work of Robbie Ross played by Edwin [Thomas]. He was resuscitated as a writing force.”
The movie, which is currently featured at the Sundance Film Festival, explores a period of Wilde’s life that many films before this have failed to venture into; his exile from England after the author was sentenced to two years of hard labor in Reading prison for his 1895 conviction for “gross indecency.” The evidence brought against him included that of him procuring male prostitutes.
Consensual sexual acts between men over the age of 21 were not decriminalized in England and Wales until 1967, not being applied in Scotland until 1980 or Northern Ireland until 1982. In what some felt was an empty gesture, in 2016 he was among thousands of gay and bisexual men pardoned posthumously for engaging in consensual same-sex relationships, who were criminally charged and sentenced to prison time.
In “The Happy Prince” Everett takes up the role of Wilde again - he previously played him on stage in 2012/2013 in David Hare’s “The Judas Tree” as well as starring in a film adaption of Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” - to pick up where others have left off, chronicling the actor’s return from his prison nightmare, his reunion with his young lover and the abuse he still faced from those who recognized him, even in exile.
“His death also in a way was Christ-like because he kind of stage-managed it himself,” Everett continued.
“He always had a way of getting out of his fate to avoid his doom and he never did, he always drove straight in there.
Read more: Lesson from Oscar Wilde’s final days
“There’s a line in the film where he says, 'Why does one run toward ruin?,' and it’s a line he actually said himself so in a weird, kind of distorted ,way for me, he is a Christ figure.
"Also as a gay man, Oscar Wilde is really the beginning of the gay movement. The road of gay liberation really started in 1900 when homosexuality, as a word, was really invented because of Oscar Wilde. So I think it’s a very inspiring story for today in many respects.”
The movie is named after Wilde’s short story first published in 1888. It looks set for a release later in 2018.
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