The costumes, setting and overall production and changes in the 2002 film adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest did change my understanding of the play script that Oscar Wilde wrote.
The costumes and setting in the movie were very typical of the 1800s Victorian Era. There was nothing surprising in this aspect, although I doubt there is much room for alteration here without completely reshaping the design of the play. It did remind me however of how extravagant life could be in the upper echelons of English society in those days.
I thought the acting and choice of actors was impressive. Judi Dench brought out the arrogance and haughtiness that I pictured of Lady Bracknell very well. Colin Firth also showed his worth, his expressions and overall demeanor were perfect. I particularly liked the scene where Gwendolen is explaining to Jack how much she loves the name “Earnest”, Firth’s expression was spot on! The pan to Jack/Firth’s face at this point was also something we wouldn’t be able to see well on a stage.
The structure of the movie was modified slightly from that in the original play. Not long after Act I starts, we have a glimpse of Act II (Cecily and Miss Prism at Manor House). This helped character development, as the mention of Cecily in the club might have been slightly confusing given the constant change of scenes and the fast paced nature of movies. Much of Act I is also set in the club, which differed from the play again. The scene where Lady Bracknell interrogates Jack is then picked out and set in one of Bracknell’s grand rooms, which gives more weight to the scene. Furthermore, having a movie set in only two or three main places would be much harder to pull off than in a stage play.
Not much of the dialogue was changed, apart from its order, most notably the scene with the cucumbers.