16 March 2005 | camcmahon
'Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.'
Having just read Vladmir Nabokov's 'Lolita' for Uni, I instantly wanted to see Stanley Kubrick's rendering of the story. Overall I was impressed by what he had done, but I felt some parts of the film didn't quite work. Firstly, although i think Sellers is a great actor and I love him in everything I've seen him in I just couldn't get comfortable with his role here. When reading the book I had a totally different vision of Quilty, so I found it hard to readjust to Seller's performance. Although his acting is great and hilarious as always, it just didn't fit into the plot for me.
I thought James Mason was good, and he played the gradual disintegration of Humbert Humbert with an intensity which i enjoyed. However, i felt that the film did not reveal as much of his character as the novel portrays. The name Humbert Humbert suggests two sides to his nature, and I felt that too much emphasis was placed on his suave and intelligent side, and not enough time was devoted to his burning desire and passion for Lolita. I particularly missed one of my favourite lines that was not used in film, 'Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.' Although i haven't seen the film in a long time, I think Jeremy Irons from the 1997 version is a much better actor for the role.
Sue Lyon made a great Lolita, although she did tremble on the line between looking young enough for the role and looking too old for it. Still, there were times in the film where she looked so young the odious nature of Humbert's act really struck me. Speaking of this, I felt the film skipped past too much of what really went on between Humbert and Lolita. Although Nabokov similarly leaves this to the reader's imagination, I thought a little more could have been done to stress the nature of Humbert and Lolita's relationship.
Shelley Winters was brilliant, and her acting added so much to the character of Charlotte Haze. I thought she was wonderful; she really fleshed the character out.
Overall, I did enjoy watching this film despite the small niggles I had with it, but I view it as something separate to the novel. In this way it's a more enjoyable experience. I'm looking forward to seeing the 1997 version of the film again (I saw it once years ago!), as I think it is a movie that will benefit much more having been made in a time of a more permissive society, allowing more creative freedom in what can be shown.