The Happy Prince Blu-ray Review
The Importance of Being Wilde
The Happy Prince Film Review
Charting the tragic last years of famed playwright Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince is a melancholy tale of a life lived.Arguably best remembered for his most famous novel The Picture of Dorian Gary, and most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest, celebrated scribe Oscar Wilde lived a flamboyant life which reached a tipping point when his notorious relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas led to a messy lawsuit involving his lover's father, the Marquesse of Queensbury, which - in turn - led to Wilde's imprisonment for 'indecency' and his subsequent ruin.
The Happy Prince looks at the last few years of Wilde's life, told with flashbacks to the events that brought him there, interspliced with his last hurrahs with loves lost. It's a tragic tale, dripping in melancholy and bolstered by a strong lead performance from Rupert Everett, who has never enjoyed such a rich role in his entire career.
Everett has never been this good.
It is with some irony that Everett, who starred in one of the few adaptations of Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, some 16 years ago, opposite Colin Firth no less (who reunites with him here), is given this opportunity to play out Wilde's last few years, it's something akin to coming full circle for the actor. The supporting cast are peppered with familiar faces, but it's Everett's baby, and he truly embraces it, although that's not enough to make the film a substantial watch.
Unfortunately, The Happy Prince skirts the fringes of Wilde's latter years, toying with his relationships, his poor health and destitution and his lack of inspiration to write, but is content to wallow in this period of self-pity rather than delve that little bit deeper into the psychology of this once-celebrated, then-crucified, now-celebrated again writer (it's chilling that he was pardoned for his acts of homosexuality in 2017; it only took a little over a century then). Nonetheless, Everett has never been this good, and that alone is almost enough to make the film worth exploring.
The Happy Prince Blu-ray PictureThe Happy Prince remains a largely pretty picture.
Lionsgate bring The Happy Prince to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray complete with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.
The limited budget movie has some striking shots, normally on location in France, where gorgeous vistas take over, and impressive shots of sunsets reign supreme. However, it doesn't get off to a great start, with some seemingly random softer focus distorting your introductory shots of the lead character, especially when juxtaposed with the clear depiction of the kids he is telling a story to.
Nonetheless, The Happy Prince remains a largely pretty picture, afforded stylised tones that run through it, a sun-drenched vibe to much of the piece, and strong colours throughout, backed up by solid black levels. Detail is strong enough, and the film boasts some great shots even if it's far from demo territory.
The Happy Prince Blu-ray SoundA very suitable accompaniment for the main event.
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track delivers strong prioritisation for the key elements, with dialogue remaining clear and coherent throughout the proceedings, disseminated across the frontal array, whilst nominally atmospheric effects and a strong, albeit oftentimes melancholy, score provide keen support.
Crashing waves, whistling trains, cheering crowds and echoing prison cells all colour in the biopic (with a volcano erupting thrown in for good measure), with a melancholy score pervading the piece. It's hardly exceptional use of the soundscape, but it's a generally very good and very suitable accompaniment for the main event.
The Happy Prince Blu-ray ExtrasThe disc includes a Making-of Featurette.
The Happy Prince Blu-ray VerdictA decent package.
Lionsgate's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of The Happy Prince delivers it with strong video and audio and a single Featurette, leaving it a decent package and a solid enough purchase for fans of the film, and those intrigued by the real life of Wilde, particularly in his latter years.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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