In early adolescence, Humbert fell hopelessly and tragically in love with a girl his own age, and, as he grew into adulthood, he never lost his obsession with "nymphets," teenagers who walk a fine line between being a girl and a woman. While looking for a place to live after securing a new teaching position, he meets Charlotte Haze (Melanie Griffith), a pretentious and annoying woman who seems desperately lonely and is obviously attracted to Humbert. Humbert pays her little mind until he meets her 13-year-old daughter Lolita (Dominique Swain), the image of the girl that Humbert once loved. Humbert moves into the Haze home as a boarder and eventually marries Charlotte in order to be closer to Lolita. When Charlotte finds out about Humbert's attraction to her daughter, she flees the house in a rage, only to be killed in an auto accident. Without telling Lolita of her mother's fate, Humbert takes her on a cross-country auto trip, where their relationship begins to move beyond the ...
Due to considerable difficulty in securing an American distributor, the film had a very limited theatrical run in order to qualify for award contention. The final domestic gross income was over $1.1 million on a $62 million budget. See more »
When Humbert pours drinks for himself and Charlotte, the glasses are shown with huge cubes of ice and are about 3/4 full. However, when he puts the glasses down in the next shot, there is little ice and the glasses are barely half full. See more »
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks, she was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always - Lolita. Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin. My soul.
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After the credits are over there is a brief clip where Lolita is shown juggling a red apple. See more »
The film was slightly cut to avoid a 'Not under 18' rating in Germany. An uncut version has been released on video. See more »
One of the best and most important novels written in English in the 20th century and they cannot get it right on the screen.
Maybe it's the fact that the novel itself is so packed with word play and games that it simply doesn't transfer that well to a different medium. A voice-over can maybe give us some of it -- that famous first paragraph -- but the problem is that there is such mellifluous gamy prose on every single page. (I think there are only about three sections in which Humbert doesn't undercut his expressions of love and guilt with irony.) How can we transpose HH's offhand rhetorical remarks like, "Where is the rapist in therapist? Where is the jest in majesty?" And that's not to mention all of the literary allusions or comic references to pop culture.
The story itself is so simple that, if Lolita weren't twelve years old, it would be just another love story. And, I was, by the way, surprised when this film was released at the horror some people felt -- oh, my gosh, a movie about pedophilia. I mean -- in this day and age? Movies about thinly disguised pedophilia of course have been around for years -- "Sundays and Cybele", "Pretty Baby," among others. And the Shirley Temple movies may not have been all that innocent either, she prancing about in those tiny skirts reeking of popcorn and lollipops, wagging her tail, a forty-year-old midget for all we know. And if we think of Lolita as innocent and corrupted, we don't know as much about what's happening with kids that age as we might like to think. This is a story about pedophilia in the way that "Faust" is a story about Satanism.
Jeremy Irons is superb here, as he is in almost everything he's done. One can't help comparing this version to Kubrick's earlier one, and this one isn't as good. Dominique Swain is no Lolita. She's an improvement over Sue Lyons, to be sure, but not actress enough to break a grown man's heart, or to project that peculiar combination of meanness, crudity, and ultimate loneliness that Lolita embodied. Melanie Griffith does what she can with the role of Charlotte Haze but I thought Shelley Winters brought a bit of additional, maybe unintended vulgarity to the part. Griffith is serene and self-confident, which is closer to the Charlotte of the novel, but for unashamed raw hunger nobody can beat Winters.
The direction is competent, not much more than that. But this is a hollow movie. It fails to capture the outrageous humor of the novel ("I was a pentapod monster...."). The score is lugubrious. The photography gloomy where the novel is filled with summer warmth, aspens, butterflies and sunshine. In other words, the movie treats the novel as a "masterpiece," deserving serious treatment, which is the kiss of death for "Lolita." Like Strick's attempt to film "Ulysses," all the humor is lost and what's left is a kind of humdrum story about people talking to one another without having that much to say. But if you are interested in unusual love stories I can recommend seeing this. See Kubrick's piece as well. They're rather different, because Kubrick, maybe realizing he could never capture the wisecracks in the novel, at least brought in Peter Sellers to provide laughs. But here, Quilty, Frank Langella, is little more than an ominous shadowy presence, whereas both in the novel and in Kubrick's film he was a terrible and hilarious tease.
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