Extra Credit: Lolita (1962)5



Stanly Kubrick’s 1962 film Lolita is about a middle aged professor’s sexual infatuation over a 14 year old girl based on Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel. Kubrick’s film itself was also controversial due to the novel’s serious content of pedophilia. James Mason stars as the protagonist Humbert Humbert, and Sue Nylon stars as Lolita. In this clip that I posted, Humbert arrives at the house of Charlotte Haze looking for a room to rent. Here he meets Charlotte’s young adolescent daughter, Dolores, aka ‘Lolita.’

The clip starts off with Charlotte Haze giving Humbert a tour of the place. She shows Humbert her art paintings, then questions him about his marital status. They are viewed in a MS as Charlotte continues to flirtatiously converse with him about Paris. Humbert is a bit akward as he subtlety leans away and bemused when he learns about her husband. Charlotte continues to flirt with him which Humbert backens away, obviously showing viewers his disinterest in Charlotte. As he backs away, the shot cuts to him bumping into a portrait where Charlotte excuses herself and mentions how she previously commanded her daughter to put it away. She continues to tour him around when Humbert abrubtly asks her for her phone number so he could think about it. After she gives him her number, she insistently takes him to view her garde, which cuts to a MS of Lolita sunbathing on her lawn. CU shot of Humbert’s face as he gazes at Lolita with a fascinated expression. MS back to Lolita lowering the music playing on the radio, then slowly stares back at him. Humbert accepts Charlotte’s offer for $200 a month and eagerly asks Charlotte when he is to move in. The clip ends with Charlotte asking him what was the decisive factor of his wanting to move in, which Humbert replies “for her cherry pies.”

The clip demonstrates how slightly abnormal and disturbed Humbert is as a character. His appearence seems to look normal since his profession is an educator making him appear respected.  However once he discovers Lolita, it’s clear that his normality given in the begining of this clip slims due to his abnormal infatuation over Lolita. Charlotte Hazes is viewed as an assertive womon which can translate both as an over bearing mother and sexualy assertive widow. Lolita’s introductory scene demonstrates how unattached she is to the world around her. She is viewed as a sexual object by Humbert and an imposing threat to her mother. This clip visually shows her distance between them.

This film was set in the 1950’s but shot in the early 60’s. It was produced by MGM studios, but filmed in Londen due to financial reasons. The film contained lots of cuts from the book in order to achieve a reasonable MPAA  rating. Even Lolita’s age was altered to 14 instead of 12 which was her original age in the book in order to appear less suggestive toward pedophilia.

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  1.    alopez:

    Great analysis of the clip. He does appear to be respectable until he sees this young girl, clearly seen as a sexual object. Lolita does seem distant from everything else in the scene. What I don’t understand is, does changing the age from 12 to 14 really make a difference? She’s still very young and it is still sick and creepy. I want to watch the film now to see how it ends…

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    Cinema Lover » Blog Archive » Extra Credit: Lolita (1962)

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