the sympathetic decadent
by Douglas Messerli
Richard Oswald (screenwriter, based on the fiction by Oscar Wilde, and director) Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray (The Picture of Dorian Gray) / 1917 || lost film
Although it still appears on some lists of productions as an extant film, the German cinematic version of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray, directed by Richard Oswald and released in July 1917 has for long been considered a lost film.
He often portrayed a detective, but also worked regularly with Oswald acting roles of other kinds of characters in a 1917 film about venereal disease Es Werde Licht!, Des goldes Fluch (God’s Curse, 1917), Der lbebende Leichnam (The Living Corpse, 1918), and Die seltsame Geschichte des Bron Torelli (The Strange Tale of Baron Torelli, 1918).
The cinematographer was Max Fassbender and the sets were designed by Manfred Noa.
Reviewers of the day praised its relative faithfulness to the original text, and for the empathy the director created for the lead figure Aldor.
The poster for the film quite nicely catches the fin de siècle spirit of the original.
Los Angeles, June 8, 2021
Reprinted in My Queer Cinema blog and World Cinema Review (June 2021).