BERLIN (Reuters) - British actor Rupert Everett said his Berlinale entry about the exile of Irish playwright Oscar Wilde in the 1890s was an expression of homosexuals’ tragedy which is still present in some parts of the world today.
“The Happy Prince”, written and directed by Everett, is a biography of Wilde’s exile in Paris after he was convicted of gross indecency in 1895 for having sex with a man during a Victorian clampdown on homosexuality.
Everett, who also plays the leading role, said Wilde’s story illustrates the struggle of people turned into outcasts for their sexuality that was still happening in some countries such as Russia, Uganda and India.
“The slow motion assassination of Oscar Wilde from the moment he went to prison to the moment he died is a story that possibly goes on in some parts of the world, still,” Everett told Reuters TV.
In the “Happy Prince”, Wilde - the most popular playwright in London in his time - remembers his old life, plays, fame and family, before being imprisoned for two years of labour.
Once released, humiliated and sick, the film tracks Wilde’s move to Paris, from where he never returned to Britain.
Prison and exile could not stop Wilde’s free spirit. He resumes his destructive affair with the flamboyant young Lord Douglas, who eventually abandons him.
Only a few devoted friends stay with Wilde when his sickness prevents him from producing any more work. He dies penniless, away from his children, but not alone.
Homosexual acts were not decriminalised in England until 1967. In 2017, thousands of gay and bisexual men who were convicted of crimes under former sexual offence laws, including Wilde, were pardoned.
“It’s a typical example of English grandeur that it is using the wrong word because ‘pardoned’ is not what’s necessary, ‘apology’ is really necessary,” Everett said.
However, Everett believed his film showed how far some countries have come in accepting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people in such a short time.
“It’s a story that could give us a certain elation that we made such a journey from 100 years until now, where we have such freedoms,” he added.
Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Adrian Croft