This essay compares the 1952 film and the 2002 film, ‘The Importance of being Earnest’. This was first a play written in 1895 by Oscar Wilde. This essay will express and show the differences and similarities between the two films, using the play script as a reference. ‘The Importance of being Earnest’ is about two handsome men who go Bunburying. Bunburying is when people make things up for their convenience and to get out and not be questioned. Jack and Algy do this to be with the girls they love; they even lie about their names. Earnest means being truthful, showing your true feelings, thinking about future actions, and being serious; this is why it is important to be Earnest. But this is reverse psychology, as no one is serious in the films.
The film ‘The Importance of being Earnest’ is a comedy or romance. The film catches your interest, with a good first scene. Also, when Jack and Algy pretend to be different people, ‘Bunburying’, and it is hard to keep up, this is very funny, and you want to find out what will happen. The second film starts with Algy being chased, making him seem mysterious, and so you want to watch and find out why. The films vary from the play, although some bits have been added and taken out to make the film shorter. In the 2002 film, a lot more new scenes have been added. In the latest film, in 2002, Aunt Augusta checks ‘Jacks’ name, and again, ‘Jack is not very Earnest. The first film was a bit disappointing, due to the fact it missed out on a funny line and said it very slowly; When Lady Bracknell is talking about long engagements.
Judi Dench said this line very quickly, unlike Edith Evans, who stressed some of the words, making it a funny line. Also, in the first adaptation of the film in 1952, the language was very like the original film and had two main scenes in it. The only major change in the dialogue in the two films is how modern the second film is, compared to the first film. The 1952 film has the same language as the play but has missed out on some more complicated words and sentences. The film is still hard to understand, though, as it is in a different style of modern English. Whereas the latest version, obviously still based on the play, has been modernised. But it has kept the older style of English in the funny lines. The latest film also misses out on some important lines and scenes, such as; the sarcastic line by Gwendolen, ‘You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar.’ This is very funny in the first edition of the play, especially how Joan Greenwood says it.
The characters vary in the two films; for example, in the 1952 film, Jack is portrayed as described in the play. Jack is very serious in the film, not how you would expect, though. He is also a lot quieter and sharper. In the 2002 film, Jack was not portrayed as he was pictured, but in different ways he was. Jack was laid back, humorous, and acted like the lead actor, which was good. Jack also looked a lot older than he should be, which was interesting, as when the film was newer, the characters looked older. Edith Evans played Lady Bracknell in the first edition of ‘The Importance of being Earnest’, and she did this exceptionally well. Edith Evans expressed certain words and phrases, such as the famous line, ‘A Handbag.’ Evans stresses these words so well; she comes across as a vicious woman but in a humorous way. Edith Evans also looked how she was described in the play; not very fat, rather small and with a wicked face, making her look fearsome.
In the latter film, in 2002, Lady Bracknell is the total opposite of Edith Evans. Judi Dench played lady Bracknell and is short and fat; this also makes her look frightening. Judi Dench did not stress the words and did not really suit playing Lady Bracknell. However, she does it well by breaking into horrified whispers when she is angry, unlike Edith Evans, who just shouts. Also, Miss Prism was very fat, giving a frightening impression but totally different to Lady Bracknell. Also, Miss Prism seemed quite persuasive; this is because her face looks rather frightening. In the 2002 film, Miss Prism looks very skinny with a scrawny face, unlike Lady Bracknell in the first film (who was skinny too.) Lady Bracknell was frightening. Anna Massey, who played Miss Prism, looks very brittle, looking less frightening, making her less persuasive.
The other characters in ‘The Importance of being Earnest’ are not that different and portray the same. In the 2002 film, the characters act differently towards each other, compared to those in 1952. In 2002 the characters had more contact with each other and would kiss and hug; in 1952, this was not appropriate, and therefore the characters hugged less frequently and rarely kissed. The costumes and fashion in both films looked beautiful and in the right era. But between the two films, the clothes looked different. In 1952 the colours were quite light, but the right colours. They were also decorated with patterns and were frilly and in the right era. In 2002 there were not as many patterns on the dresses, but again they seemed to look in the right era. They both had the same kind of colours. The suits in the 2002 film seemed very modern and were the only thing that did not look in the right era.
In 1952 the whole filmed ass was set inside, so everything was fake, but it looked in the right time setting. Everything looked more detailed, making some ornaments look over the top. But the detail was good when it was needed, such as on the tables. The 2002 film was very different as it was filmed outside; this made it look more realistic and better, although sometimes more detail was needed. Where the 2002 film was set looked like a perfect place for the era that was needed. The colour in the 2002 film was very natural, due to the fact it was set outside. The film is still quite bright like the 1952 film, but the 2002 film is more colourful in places and different to the older film. In the 1952 film, it was filmed inside, making the colour artificial and very sharp. There are also more modern colours in the film, which is strange as it is older.
The 2002 film ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ was set outside, so even though the lighting was very modern, it was neutral and natural. In 1952 the location was inside, making an obvious difference to the lighting of the film. The lighting was very bright and sharp, partly because it was artificial lighting. The sound in the original film, in 1952, was rather basic. It did not seem to have many sound effects, apart from some background music sometimes and some little sound effects. There were not many songs, mainly just speech, which was rather complicated and a lot posher than modern film. The other sound effects were little things, such as the opening and shutting of doors. Also, when Cecily dropped the lump of sugar into Gwendolen’s tea, this sounds very realistic. In the latest version, in 2002, it is a lot more modern, so the sound effects are a lot better.
Also, the film was set outside, so little things like the wind and rain and the sound of leaves dropping sounded a lot better and more realistic. Also, like the 1952 film, the opening and shutting of doors were perfect. There was quite a lot of background music, with a regular song being sung now and then, even by the actors themselves. The camera’s movement in the latest film showed lots of movement and was never stationary for long. It had many good long shots, such as; the scene on the balcony, when Jack and Algy pretended to like each other, to Cecily and the others. After strangling each other. There are also some close-ups, but not as many as in the first film. The first film is stationary, but obviously being filmed inside, there was not much space for longer shots.
In conclusion, I feel that each film was good in different ways. I personally preferred the 2002 film, as it was ‘up-to-date’ and I could understand more of it, and I found it rather funny. But I also like the first film, as Edith Evans (Lady Bracknell) was hilarious and had some hilarious scenes. I think both films are worth watching and the older version is more for adults, whereas the younger film is more for teenagers or young adults. I would class both films as ‘films to watch