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Filmmaker Takes Issue With Wilde's Kin

April 15, 1998

I was astounded to see your article on Oscar Wilde, in which Merlin Holland [Wilde's grandson] says several completely untrue things about our new film, "Wilde" ("On the Wilde Side," March 22).

It is absolutely untrue that the film leaves the viewer with any impression that Bosie [Lord Alfred Douglas] and Oscar ended up together. I quote verbatim the card at the end of the film: "Oscar and Bosie parted after three months. Imprisonment had ruined Oscar's health. He spent his last days in Paris, living in a cheap hotel. He wrote, 'Like Dear St. Francis of Assisi, I am wedded to poverty, but in my case the marriage is not a success.' Oscar Wilde died on 30th November, 1900, aged 46. Bosie died in 1945. Robbie Ross died in 1918. His ashes were placed in Oscar's tomb."

It is absolutely untrue that the film confines its examination of Oscar's life to "clever fellow, self-publicist, comes to America, comes back, gets married, finds himself homosexual, gets caught in the act, big tragedy and then he dies." In two hours Julian Mitchell, our writer, and Brian Gilbert, our director, have woven the story of a complex, multifaceted genius of wide-ranging interests, as his life intersects with Douglas, a young man cursed with the temper of his evil father, and Constance, Oscar's loyal wife even after he was arrested and imprisoned.

A huge number of other people around the world have found the many layers of the story compelling.

PETER SAMUELSON

Houston

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