Lolita


"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I was not even her first lover."

From Lolita, 1997

Lolita, the film, is a cinematic adaption of the famous book of the same name, written by Vladimir Nabokov in English in 1952 and set in the USA. The book is written in the first person and the protagonist Humbert Humbert is the narrator. Lolita like Lawrence's "Lady Chatterly's lover" is a novel which shocked the world with its plot in the 50's and the 60's but is today recognized as a work of art.

It occupies positions in almost all lists of the greatest novels of the 20th century. The more so, due to Nabokov's unique style of writing and his sense of wordplay-which was first exploited to the hilt in this book.

The plot is set in the 1950s and opens up with a confrontation between Clare Quilty, who is playing on the piano and Humbert Humbert, a French literature professor who shoots Quilty. The story is then sent back to track events that occurred 4 years earlier.

Humbert is a literary scholar whose wife has left him and consequently has a very low opinion of himself. He settles down in New England as a paying guest in an inn run by a widow. Here, he first meets Lolita or "Dolores Haze", the 12 year old daughter of the landlady and develops a guilt ridden infatuation for her.

Lolita becomes aware of this and teases Humbert whenever she finds a chance. The mother now forms the third part of the triangle and declares that Humbert should either marry her or leave. She then reads Humbert's diary and is appalled to know about Humbert's infatuation with her daughter, but is killed in an accident before she can do anything.

Lolita being in her boarding school, Humbert picks her up and they set off in a journey in various motels, as a father and child. Lolita initiates the seduction herself and Humbert comes to know that she is no stranger to the sexual act.

Humbert, becomes increasingly paranoid and one day, he finds that Lolita has left the motel. After five years he meets Lolita again, married and finds out the person responsible for Lolita's separation from him. Lolita is discovered, who is married and pregnant and needs money. He visits her home and finds she is indeed pregnant.

The former professor demands an explanation for her disappearance and Lolita tells him that she left with the man following them who was a playwright from her home town and who promised her fame. After Lolita’s refusal to leave her husband, Humbert goes to kill him and then dies before his trial. Nothing is mentioned about Lolita’s fate.

It is the 2nd portion of the book we find the literary genius of Nabokov in Humbert's essays of "his infatuation". The word "nymphet" was also coined by Nabokov, which Humbert uses for Lolita.

The cast for the movie includes James Mason, Sue Lyon, Shelley Winters and Clare Quilty. Kubrick had some trouble filming the movie because he had to leave out the more sexual aspects of the novel due to the restrictions at the time and the age of the actress playing Lolita who was only fourteen.

There have been many cinematic adaptions of Lolita. The 1962 version of Lolita the movie was directed by Stanely Kubrick, which starred James Mason as Humbert Humbert, Peter Sellers as Clare Quilty, Sue Lyon as Dolores Haze and Shelley Winters as Charlotte Haze.

The flim was not a very faithful version of the original due to the very strict censorship employed. Stanely Kubrick later said that he would not have made the movie if he knew the problems he would have faced from the censors.

The screen play of the movie is credited to the author Nabokov, though Kubrick used very little of what Nabokov gave him. Nabokov is credited with the quote that the movie may turn out to be a "the swerves of a scenic drive as perceived by the horizontal passenger of an ambulance", before seeing it. However, it turned out to be a nice production which received a lot of mixed reviews.

The movie was a hit and turned out to be a big grosser at the box office. Lolita the movie was nominated for an academy award and won a no of awards including the golden globe for the most promising newcomer for Sue Lyon and her beautiful costumes. A remake of Lolita the movie was made again in 1997, this time being more true to the book. This adaption however bombed in the box office. Lolita the DVD more often than not, features the Kubrick version although the later version can also be found.

Here are more Lolita Movie Quotes