BU Film School

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

FT 553 Screening: Lolita

Film info
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
IMDB link

Synopsis/my notes
Humbert goes to Quilty's house. Quilty tries to joke with him (ping-pong, reading letter with Southern accent), cajole him. Humbert shoots, pursues and shoots more, killing Quilty.

Humbert in America for summer. Will stay in Ramsdale, then go to Beardsley College as lecturer. Decides to stay at Charlotte's house because of Lolita's presence. Hands in movie theater. Dance at school -- introduces Quilty, swinger neighbors. Charlotte's move on Humbert interrupted by Lolita coming home early. Lolita sent to summer camp. Charlotte leaves confession for Humbert, who laughs hysterically.

Humbert and Charlotte married. Tension, avoidance on his part. Charlotte decides to send Lolita straight from camp to boarding school. She finds his diary, runs out of house, killed by car. Humbert fetches Lolita from camp, stay overnight at hotel. Quilty there too, he interrogates. Humbert owns up about Charlotte's death.

Humbert and Lolita at Beardsley Cottage. Tension due to Humbert's strictness/jealousy and Lolita's waywardness. Quilty poses as school psychologist to convince Humbert to let Lolita be in school play. Humbert learns she's been lying about going to piano lessons, they fight, then make up and hit the road.

Humbert and Lolita followed by black car. He sees her talking to someone at gas station, suspicious. She falls ill, he's ill too. He takes her to hospital. Quilty calls Humbert's hotel room. Later that night Humbert goes to pick up Lolita, but she's already been discharged and picked up by her uncle.

Letter from Lolita -- she's married and pregnant, please send money. Humbert comes to house, interrogates Lolita about husband, mysterious interloper. Husband doesn't know anything. Interloper was Quilty. Humbert -- come away with me. Lolita refuses, Humbert breaks down and cries, then gives her money. He leaves to find Quilty.

FT 553 notes (from 07/15/04)
Lover and nymphet. Quilty a trickster. Film series of triangles -- HH/Lolita/Charlotte, HH/Lolita/Quilty, Charlotte/Lolita/Quilty. Novel has strange dialetic between Europe/Humbert (fashionable, reasonable, decadent) and U.S./Lolita (dumb, gum-chewing, teenage youth). Every scene a suburban ritual. People either liars or helpless. The more ritualized, the more stylized, the more effective a film is.

Music keeps us from identifying with situation and characters.

In "Lolita," every line pointed, a seduction. Ongoing mating dance. Lolita powerful figure (power of sex).

All lines double-entendres. "Reproductions in bedroom," "Romance languages," rubbing husband's ashes, cherry pie, Beardsley College, Ramsdale, "I like to take it up this end," "You like to watch, don't you?" "get more peace," "studio affair," "one of the speakers I had," chess -- take queen. Strategy a verbal one, also has slapstick, physical gesture.

Romantic drama clich├ęs. Music underscores, parodies, comments. Trickster Clare Quilty. Not "normal" like Humbert and Lolita. Savage wit.

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