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Dorian Gray (2009 film)

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Dorian Gray
British promotional poster
Directed byOliver Parker
Screenplay byToby Finlay
Based onThe Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde
Produced byBarnaby Thompson
CinematographyRoger Pratt
Edited byGuy Bensley
Music byCharlie Mole
Distributed byMomentum Pictures
Release date
  • 9 September 2009 (2009-09-09) (United Kingdom)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$22.4 million[1]

Dorian Gray is a 2009 British dark fantasy horror film[2] based on Oscar Wilde's 1890 novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, directed by Oliver Parker, and written by Toby Finlay (his first screenplay). The film stars Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Rebecca Hall, Ben Chaplin, Emilia Fox, and Rachel Hurd-Wood. It tells the story of the title character, an attractive Englishman whose loveliness and spirit are captured in an enchanted painting that keeps him from aging. His portrait becomes further tainted with every sin he commits while he remains young and handsome.

Dorian Gray was released in the United Kingdom on 9 September 2009, by Momentum Pictures,[3] having competed in the Official Fantàstic Competition at the 2009 Sitges Film Festival.[4][5]



When a naive young Dorian Gray arrives in Victorian London to inherit an estate left to him by his abusive grandfather, he is swept into a social whirlwind by the charismatic Lord Henry "Harry" Wotton, who introduces Gray to the hedonistic pleasures of the city. Henry's friend, society artist Basil Hallward, paints a portrait of Gray to capture his beauty. Gray makes a flippant pledge: he would give anything to stay young—even his soul.

Gray falls in love with budding young actress Sibyl Vane and proposes marriage. However, influenced by Henry and after a brothel visit, Gray leaves Sibyl. Heartbroken, the young woman drowns herself. Her brother, James ("Jim"), confronts Dorian and reveals Sibyl was pregnant with Gray's child. Jim attempted to strangle Gray before being dragged away. Henry distracts Gray from his grief, and his hedonistic lifestyle worsens, distancing him from Basil.

Gray finds Hallward's portrait of him has become warped and twisted and realizes that his off-hand pledge has come true — while he stays healthy and whole, his sins and injuries manifest as physical defects on the canvas. When Basil repeatedly insists on seeing the portrait (which Gray locked away in the attic), Gray reveals it to him. Gray then kills, dismembers and dumps Basil's body in the River Thames, but the remains are recovered and buried.

Gray invites Henry to travel the world, but the latter declines, citing his wife's pregnancy. After a 25-year absence, Gray stuns everyone at the welcoming party with his unchanged youthful appearance. Henry's daughter Emily becomes fascinated with Gray, much to her father's disapproval.

Gray's memory of Sibyl resurfaces, making him remorseful. He attempts to distance himself from Emily, but cannot resist her. Jim stalks and confronts Gray, only to be killed by an oncoming train in the London Underground. While Gray prepares to leave London with Emily, Henry studies old photographs and remembers Gray's off-handed pledge to exchange his soul for eternal youth.

Henry obtains a copy of Dorian's attic key. In the attic, he discovers Basil's blood-stained scarf. Gray confronts and attempts to strangle Henry, but gets distracted by Emily calling to him. Henry knocks him aside and exposes the portrait. Horrified at the twisted sight on the canvas, Henry sets it on fire and locks Gray in the attic. Emily reaches the attic, but Gray refuses to leave. He confesses his love for her, and Henry drags her out of the burning mansion. Gray impales the painting with a fire poker, causing his body to age rapidly, before the whole mansion is consumed by fire.

A few months later, following a futile attempt to reconcile with Emily, Henry heads to his attic. He looks at the portrait of Gray, which has returned to its original state despite the burned and charred frame. The portrait's eyes briefly glow.



Supporting parts are played by Pip Torrens as Victor, Gray's valet; Jo Woodcock as Lord and Lady Radley's daughter Celia; Max Irons as Lucius, a young man whom Gray assaults at a party for touching the key to the attic door; David Sterne as the theatre manager who first introduces Gray to Sibyl; and Douglas Henshall as Alan Campbell, an acquaintance of Gray's who is present when Jim Vane tries to strangle Gray.



The film began shooting in summer 2008 at Ealing Studios and locations across London[6] and finished in October.[citation needed] The film received £500,000 of National Lottery funding via the UK Film Council's Premiere Fund.[6]



The film received mixed reviews. As of February 2024, the film holds an approval rating of 43% on film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 40 reviews with an average rating of 5/10. The site's critical consensus states: "Despite a lavish and polished production, Dorian Gray is tame and uninspired with a lifeless performance by Ben Barnes in the title role."[7]

See also



  1. ^ "Box Office Mojo - Dorian Gray".
  2. ^ Dorian Gray (2009) AllMovie. Retrieved 21 December 2022
  3. ^ Archie Thomas (7 August 2008). "Rebecca Hall joins Dorian Gray". Variety. Retrieved 12 September 2008.
  4. ^ "Line Up :: Official Fantàstic In Competition Selection". Sitges Film Festival. 9 May 2009.
  5. ^ Dorian Gray at IMDb
  6. ^ a b "Remake of Oscar Wilde Classic". screenafrica.com. 9 September 2008. Archived from the original on 24 September 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2008.
  7. ^ "Dorian Gray (2009)". Retrieved 24 February 2024 – via www.rottentomatoes.com.