The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

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Released 2-Jun-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Audio Commentary-Oliver Parker (Director)
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 89:55
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:11) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Oliver Parker

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Rupert Everett
Colin Firth
Frances O'Connor
Reese Witherspoon
Judi Dench
Tom Wilkinson
Anna Massey
Edward Fox
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Charlie Mole

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Mr Bunbury is buried

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Wonder of wonders! A Miramax film that doesn't feature Gwyneth Paltrow!

    This is a brilliant adaptation of Oscar Wilde's famous play. Yes, this period romantic comedy is all froth and silliness, but delicious, like whipped cream, and something that is very very watchable.

    Jack Worthing (Colin Firth) - also known as "John" presumably because that is his middle name - is a serious young man who has inherited a large estate and is in charge of the education and upbringing of a young lady called Cecily (Reese Witherspoon). He is so serious, straight and narrow that the only way for him to indulge in his wild side is to invent a fictitious wayward younger brother called "Ernest."

    Of course, poor Jack is forced to travel to London regularly to check up on "Ernest." When he arrives, he becomes Ernest and lives out a secret life of reckless mischief - including dining at expensive restaurants without paying the bill and frequenting places of questionable repute.

    He befriends another gentleman of similar habits - Algernon Moncrieff (Rupert Everett). "Algy" is the opposite - he normally leads a carefree life, but has an imaginary invalid friend called "Bunbury" in the country whom he "visits" from time to time to prove to people how "virtuous" he is, despite his playboy image.

    Now, here is a summary of the complications. Jack has fallen in love with Algy's cousin Gwendolyn (Frances O'Connor) but unfortunately he does not have the approval of her mother, Lady Bracknell (Judi Dench). You see, Jack is an adopted child so his ancestry is unknown - he was found as a baby abandoned in a bag left at Victoria Station. So he needs to find evidence of noble parentage to prove to Lady Bracknell that he is "worthy" of her daughter's hand in marriage.

    Gwendolyn also discloses that the primary reason why she is in love with him is because his name is "Ernest" and she adores men with that name. If his name were "Jack" or "John" her ardour might cool considerably.

    Algy in the meantime is interested in getting to know Cecily better, so he concocts a brilliant plan - turn up at Jack's countryside manor as none other than "Ernest" and introduce himself to Cecily. Next thing you know, the pair have fallen in love, but Cecily also declares that one of the major reasons was that she is also enamoured of men who are "Ernest."

    There is also a sub-plot involving the Reverend Dr. Chasuble (Tom Wilkinson) and Cecily's teacher Miss Prism (Anna Massey) who appear to be falling in love with one another.

    Needless to say, sooner or later all the characters meet one another, and there is a lot of confusion about who "Ernest" really is. Obviously, both men can't be "Ernest" at the same time, especially since that is not even their real names. However, as you can probably guess, everything sorts itself out at the end. The film is even funnier at a different level if you realise that "earnest" is a euphemism for "homosexuality" - suddenly the dialogue has an additional second meaning.

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Transfer Quality


    This is a widescreen 2.35:1 transfer, 16x9 enhanced, conforming to the intended aspect ratio. I must admit that I was surprised that this film was shot in the "Scope" aspect ratio (using anamorphic lenses on 35mm film) - but the wider ratio helps to add grandeur to the English countryside and a more expansive view of intimate scenes.

    As you would expect from a recent film, the film source is in very good condition, and is faithfully captured in the transfer. Detail levels are high, colour saturation is just about perfect, and there are hardly any film marks.

    However, I did notice moderate amounts of Gibb's effect ringing spoiling otherwise what would have been a reference quality transfer.

    An English subtitle track is available. Accuracy seems about average, and lyrics of songs sung are also transcribed.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at 63:11 just after mud splatters on Jack and Algy, and is not really noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two audio tracks: an English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) soundtrack, and an English Audio Commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). I listened to both audio tracks.

    I did not expect this to be anything other than dialogue focused and front-centric, and my expectations were met.

    Dialogue was crystal clear at all times and there were no issues with audio synchronization.

    Although some of the dialogue felt atmospheric, and there were some usage of rear surround channels for ambience, in general the rear channels were under-utilized and the subwoofer fairly idle. There are some instances of panning across front channels, but other than that the soundtrack might as well have been in mono.

    The original music score by Charlie Mole is light-hearted, slightly jazzy and anachronistic but I suspect that is intentional.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Extras are okay but not mind-bogglingly impressive.


Audio Commentary - Oliver Parker (Director)

    Oliver doesn't speak much during this commentary, and there are extended periods where he is silent. He doesn't even begin speaking until well after the opening titles, and for a while I thought I had not selected the right audio track. Oliver mainly focuses on explaining the plot, and explaining some of the scenes, as well as making comparisons with the play. He also makes comments on the cast and the acting. Curiously, he doesn't really focus on the technicalities of the film making process, unlike other directors. Some of his scene specific comments are stating the obvious, but he does reveal a few gems. One of his comments, though, that mystified me was that he said he struggled with wanting to keep the women's laughter after they splattered mud on the men from their horses, before deciding to remove the laughter. But I could clearly hear a giggle in the soundtrack.

Featurette - Making Of (7:23)

    This is your usual short promotional featurette, presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). It includes excerpts from the film, behind the scenes footage, and interviews with:

Featurette - Behind The Scenes (14:50)

    This is a rather boring collection of behind the scenes footage of various scenes with no introduction or commentary, presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). Some of the scenes did not make it into the film, and the audio track is frequently very indistinct. Scenes include:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 is very slightly ahead in terms of features but not by much.


    The Importance Of Being Earnest is a wonderful adaptation of Oscar Wilde's play and a very watchable romantic comedy in period costume.

    The video transfer quality is acceptable.

    The audio transfer quality is also acceptable though not exciting.

    Extras include a director's commentary and two featurettes.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Friday, March 07, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RP82, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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Comments (Add)
Jack and John - jhill