Book vs. Movie: The Picture of Dorian Gray (2009)

Hello folks!
I finally have some spare time, so prepare for a bunch of Book vs. Movie posts in the next weeks!
The 2009 adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray is to be the kick-off for this. Ben Barnes stars as the eponymous young lad who longs for eternal beauty.


The Plot:
Dorian Gray is a young, wealthy and good-looking man. When his friend Basil Hallward paints a picture of him – capturing his beauty – Dorian makes a wish: If only he would stay as young and wonderful as the Dorian on the canvas and the painting would grow old in his stead. Soon before long it turns out his wish came true. But of course that’s not as pleasant as it seems…


Book vs. Movie:
Oscar Wilde’s only novel is a classic. Although I didn’t like it as much as many of his other works it is still an interesting story.
But when I watched the movie I was beyond disappointed.
First of all: they changed huge chunks of the story. While I understand that the alterations in Dorian’s relationship with Sibyl Vane make it easier to grasp (as some parts of the book may seem a little strange, especially from today’s point of view), I have no idea why they had to introduce a new character(Lord Henry Wotton’s daughter) who becomes romantically entangled. This simply annoyed me. It was completely unnecessary, didn’t add anything to the film. On the contrary: it didn’t match the vibe and also somehow made Dorian’s transition by far shallower. I won’t even begin talking about the dreadful ending of the movie. I despise it.
Besides the story being completely changed, I also wasn’t too fond of the casting choices. Colin Firth wasn’t the right match for Henry Wotton. He makes the character so very different from the book. But who I really couldn’t deal with is Rebecca Hall. She plays Wotton’s daughter and is supposed to be 18 years old. No way. In 2009 she was already 27 years old and precisely looks like that. Basically the entire plotline with her that was for some reason added annoyed the shit out of me as it took so much depth form the story.
The movie keeps dragging on, making you wish it was over after the first ten minutes. Even the opening scene was boring. I have no clue why they didn’t start the way it was in the book. In Basil Hallward’s studio while he’s painting Dorian. It would have been a wonderful opening for the film, intriguing from the first moment on.

Well, all I can say about the 2009 adaptation is that it’s downright awful. I’m sure Oscar Wilde is rotating in his grave because of what they did to his novel.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

10 thoughts on “Book vs. Movie: The Picture of Dorian Gray (2009)

  1. Have you seen the 1945 film, with George Sanders and Hurd Hatfield? I like the book, and both films, but the earlier film is much better, I think.
    Thanks for following my blog, which is much appreciated.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  2. Actually, in the 2009 movie, 25 years pass when Dorian returns. That would make Rebecca Hall’s character around 26. Casting her isn’t off the mark age wise, however I agree with you that her character didn’t add anything. It was an unnecessary romance.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gosh, I mean to read that book for years! I would try the 1945 film version which, I think, will be much better and George Sanders is excellent in it as Wotton. Angela Lansbury playes the doomed Sybll

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gosh, I’ve meant to watch that film for ages! Back when I wrote this post, I did some research and found out about the old film but somehow never got around to actually watching it.


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