Humbert Humbert, a divorced British professor of French literature, travels to small-town America for a teaching position. He allows himself to be swept into a relationship with Charlotte Haze, his widowed and sexually famished landlady, whom he marries in order that he might pursue the woman's 14-year-old flirtatious daughter, Lolita, with whom he has fallen hopelessly in love, but whose affections shall be thwarted by a devious trickster named Clare Quilty. Written by
The end scene, where Humbert tracks down Clare Quilty in the cluttered mansion, is shown twice: first at the start of the movie, then again at the end. But there are some noticeable contrasts: for example, in the opening version of this scene, the sheet-draped chair, which is concealing Quilty, has a dark-colored bottle sitting near the top. This bottle falls and clatters to the floor as Quilty stirs. But in the end scene, this bottle is nowhere to be seen. Also, Humbert holds his left arm differently as he walks round the harp. See more »
Having read the Nabokov novel and the two well-known versions of the film, I believe the most accurate way of defining the relations is: Lyne´s film is more faithful to the literal reading of the story, Kubrick's one is far more faithful to its spirit and, what is even more important, it isn't drowned by comparisons with the book.
Probably what bothers most people who have seen both films and read the novel is that Kubrick gives ample space to cynicism, farce and mocking of all the main (and even secondary) characters: it ridicules both the cultured, refined and cosmopolitan Englishman and the pseudo-liberal and fairly tacky Americans (the cultural and behavioral differentiation reminding me of Henry James, just in reverse). The child temptress is here seen more realistically as a sexy however vacuous and irritating teenager and Humbert´s love of her as a noble and real but tremendously stupid infatuation (coming from a cold-headed intellectual like him). Also delightful the portrayal of alcoholic and neurotic Shelley Winters, and particularly of Peter Sellers as a mediocre tv writer enhanced by American middle-class culture. There is a lot of witty sociopolitical criticism here.
Adrian Lynne's version, being utterly romantic (and striving really too hard to be poetic) may seem more accurate on the love story but is really Nabokov's intention to tell a love story as such? I can't really appreciate how such wonderful novelist could be so obvious and open to his reader. Not forgetting the romanticism of Humbert's feelings of despair towards the girl, Kubrick doesn't indulge in a simple love story but explores all the most obscure consequences of irrationality and does so with irony and sarcasm (humour is everywhere) but also with a touch of compassionate dramatism when appropriate.
We have a classic here, both faithful to the novel and full of innovations. Lynne´s intent is merely a limp follower of its two (the literary and the filmic) predecessors.
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