Movie Proposal: The Portrait of Derek Black
By Savannah Willis and Ben Roberts
Part I: Original Work and Movie Interpretation
Novel: Picture of Dorian Gray
Movie Version Viewed: Ben Barnes
Synopsis: Dorian Gray meets Basil Hallward, a young painter, who paints multiple paintings of Dorian as characters in different settings. One day Basil decides to paint a portrait of Dorian as himself, and while he is painting Lord Henry comes to see Basil. When he meets Dorian he immediately takes a liking to him. Lord Henry has strange beliefs about pleasure and beauty which he often converses about. When the portrait is complete and Dorian sees how good looking he is, he curses the painting and begins to believe that beauty is his only good attribute. Dorian claims that he would give his soul to look like he does in the painting forever. Dorian begins spending more time with Lord Henry and his influence over Dorian becomes stronger. Dorian meets a young actress named Sybil Vane and falls in love with her ability to act well. Sybil becomes so enthralled in her love for Dorian that she decides she no longer needs to act, and that it is all fake. After she tells him this he says he no longer loves her and leaves her. Upon his return home he sees that his face in Basil’s portrait now has a meaner expression. At first he is unsure of the meaning but worries that the painting is relaying his poor behavior, and he decides that he will go back to Sybil the next morning and love her again. When he awakes the next morning, however, Lord Henry informs Dorian that Sybil committed suicide. He convinces Dorian that her suicide was the ultimate symbol of love and that he shouldn’t dwell on it. Dorian hides his portrait away in his house so that no one can see. Lord Henry gives Dorian a book which completely enthralls Dorian. It is about a sinful Frenchmen, and it inspires Dorian to live the rest of his life going after pleasure and new sensations and not caring about his moral consequences. Many years pass and he gains a horrible reputation throughout London. One night Basil goes to confront him about the rumors he hears, and Dorian shows Basil the painting. The two argue and Dorian kills Basil. The next day, Dorian goes to an opium den where he sees Sybil’s brother, who attempts to kill Dorian. A little while later, while Dorian is having a party, he sees Sybil’s brother in the window and begins to feel guilty. Sybil’s brother is later accidentally killed, and Dorian feels safe and resolves to put his life back together. Dorian tries to destroy the painting by stabbing it with the knife he used to kill Basil, but when his servants find him the painting is perfectly intact, and Dorian Gray is dead, old and disfigured on the floor.
- Art’s only purpose is to offer beauty
- Beauty is what is most important to society
- There are negative consequences of influence
- The painting of Dorian’s portrait/introduction to lord henry and his realization that he has beauty that he would give anything to retain. This is the beginning of Dorian’s friendship with Lord Henry and path to sin.
- The scene where he tells Sybil he no longer loves her. This shows Dorian’s cruelty and leads to her suicide. The next morning when Dorian is convinced not to care that Sybil is dead, it is a turning point in Dorian’s morality.
- Dorian’s murder of Basil. Dorian’s life of sin has pushed him over the edge and he kills someone that was once his best friend. At this point he has lost all moral sense.
Review: The movie version was different from the novel in that it was less conversation based. In the novel, the reader learns about Dorian’s transformation through conversation rather than through depiction of his immoral activities. His immorality is implied but vague. In the movie, there are scenes that show Dorian’s sin rather than just saying he did bad things. This made the movie much different than the book, but it still got the point across. Also, the movie opened with a scene of a murder and then showed the scene of the portrait painting. While different, doing this built anticipation among the audience. Something we disliked about the movie was that the characters did not look like how they were described in the novel. Dorian was a brunette rather than blonde, and Sybil was supposed to be godly, but in the movie she was not as attractive. Overall, the movie version we saw was a great representation of the novel.
Part II: Pitch
Derek Black’s parents recently died. They were very wealthy, and he is attending Yale but has no intended major; he doesn’t know what he wants to do. His best friend Brock is an art major. One of Brock’s first projects is to paint a portrait of someone, and he chooses to paint Derek. Right before Brock’s art class is his philosophy class, and the day he turns the portrait in he has to bring it to philosophy class with him. His professor, Professor Henry, sees Brock’s portrait of Derek and is fascinated by how attractive Derek is. He demands to meet the young man. Brock is nervous about introducing them because Derek is very impressionable and Professor Henry’s philosophy was not something he wanted to influence Derek. He introduces them, and just like Brock was afraid of, Professor Henry fascinates Derek with a spiel about pleasure and beauty. He claims the portrait is perfection and convinces Derek that looking like the portrait for the rest of his life would bring more happiness than anything else. Derek and the Professor begin to meet and discuss their opinions more and more. Brock’s art professor was extremely impressed with his portrait, he got an A. Brock lets Dorian keep the picture. Derek gets a fake ID and starts going to parties and bars. One evening he meets a theatre major named Sydney and she asks him to come watch her act the next day. She is amazing and he is completely enamoured with her acting abilities. They fall in love. A few weeks later she changes her major, she’s now a mathematics major. Derek gets mad and leaves her, he only loved her for her ability to be someone she is not. She commits suicide. Derek is sad and goes to Professor Henry with this story but he tells him not to be upset and that he should be glad she sacrificed herself for him. Derek gets over Sydney’s death and continues to party. His grades fall and rumors circulate about the horrible things that he has done. Like in the movie, the picture changes as he sins, and Derek keeps it hidden in his dorm room. He is fascinated by it’s changes. The art department is having an art show and Brock’s art professor asked him to put the portrait of Derek on display. Derek refuses to let Brock have the picture and Brock gets angry. They fight, and Derek accidentally pushes him too hard. Brock hits his head and Derek calls an ambulance, but it is too late, Brock’s skull cracked and he is dead. He tells the police that he fell and they believe him, as far as they know there was no motive for argument. A few years pass, his reputation gets worse and May of his senior year he cannot graduate. He decides instead of getting a job after college he will use his dead family’s money to travel. He gains new knowledge of sensations and pleasure as he does. 15 years later there is little money left, Derek has no degree, and no one to love. All he has is his youth, beauty, and the horrible portrait. He realizes Professor Henry was wrong, beauty, pleasure and youth are not the only things worth having. Derek commits suicide. The end.
Part III: Casting
Derek Black: Derek is a young, innocent college student who is exceptionally handsome. His looks garner him much attention, which in turn causes him to be a bit self obsessed. His innocence makes him very susceptible to manipulation, and he quickly becomes corrupted by Professor Henry, despite his friend Brock’s warnings. His only talent is his beauty, which causes him to become naive due to his lack of actual talents. After Professor Henry sees Brock’s portrait and demands to meet Derek, Brock introduces the two of them in Professor Henry’s office. At first Derek doesn’t understand why the professor insists on meeting him, but once they are introduced he no longer cares. He is intrigued by Professor Henry and listens to every word of his speech on Derek’s beauty and youth with fascination. After Brock does the formal introduction, both Professor Henry and Derek seem to ignore him. Brock feels uncomfortable with the situation and immediately regrets introducing them, he worries Derek will pay too much attention to what Professor Henry is saying.
Choice #1: Young Leonardo DiCaprio
Choice #2: Skandar Keynes
Brock: Hardworking college student who is a friend of Derek. He wants the best in Derek and disproves of Professor Henry’s interactions with him, However, his passive nature is not enough to keep Derek away from the manipulative grasp of Henry. His ultimate goal is to bring sense back to Derek, but he fails as Derek becomes far too removed from his former self. After Professor Henry sees Brock’s portrait and demands to meet Derek, Brock introduces the two of them in Professor Henry’s office. At first Derek doesn’t understand why the professor insists on meeting him, but once they are introduced he no longer cares. He is intrigued by Professor Henry and listens to every word of his speech on Derek’s beauty and youth with fascination. After Brock does the formal introduction, both Professor Henry and Derek seem to ignore him. Brock feels uncomfortable with the situation and immediately regrets introducing them, he worries Derek will pay too much attention to what Professor Henry is saying.
Choice #1: Josh Hutcherson
Choice #2: Daniel Radcliffe
Professor Henry: Henry is a college professor at Yale, where he teaches a philosophy class. He is in his sixties and is a functioning alcoholic. His obsession with beauty and pleasure cause him to be very intrigued with Derek, and his main objective in the story is to take him under his wing and influence him. He is the main reason that Derek becomes so corrupted and evil, and he ultimately leads Derek to his own demise. After Professor Henry sees Brock’s portrait and demands to meet Derek, Brock introduces the two of them in Professor Henry’s office. At first Derek doesn’t understand why the professor insists on meeting him, but once they are introduced he no longer cares. He is intrigued by Professor Henry and listens to every word of his speech on Derek’s beauty and youth with fascination. After Brock does the formal introduction, both Professor Henry and Derek seem to ignore him. Brock feels uncomfortable with the situation and immediately regrets introducing them, he worries Derek will pay too much attention to what Professor Henry is saying.
Choice #1: Hugh Laurie
Choice #2: Alan Rickman
Sydney: Sydney is another young college student who is adamant about theatre. She falls in with Derek, but he breaks her heart when he dumps her for changing majors. Grief stricken, she kills herself by overdosing on pills. After Sydney switches her major from theatre to English, she goes to Derek’s dorm room to tell him. When she gets there he is happy to see her, but once she gives him the news he suddenly gets angry. He is mad that she is throwing her talent away. He tells her that was her most appealing attribute, and he doesn’t want to be with her anymore. Sydney is dumbfounded; she did not think this would be an issue. She starts crying. Derek doesn’t care, he tells her to leave. Sydney goes to a nearby pharmacy and buys sleeping pills. The cashier says nothing about her tears. She returns to her dorm and overdoses.
Choice #1: Emma Watson
Choice #2: Shailene Woodley
Setting: Movie will be filmed at Yale, time period is current, 2015. When Derek is traveling after college filming will take place in various popular cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, etc. Most of what will be shown in the filming of his traveling is the inside of night clubs.
Costumes: Since Derek is wealthy, his clothes will look expensive, and he will have a preppy style, but he will not dress like a fraternity boy. As the movie goes on Derek will begin to wear darker colors. Brock and Sydney will wear semi-hipster attire. Brock will change his look a few times throughout the movie to fit the image of an art student trying to find a way to express himself. Sydney will wear modest dresses and skirts that exemplify her innocence. Professor Henry will wear suits everyday as he must dress professionally for work.
Music: Music will be more exciting and sweet in the beginning and will soon get darker as Dorian’s morals diminish. This is meant to mimic how his mind and motives change as throughout the movie. In the end when he realizes he has nothing and commits suicide the tone of the music will be sad.
Beginning exciting music: