Lolita, 1962 – Long Story… Made Short
1962: Actress Sue Lyon poses for a portrait in a scene from the movie 'Lolita' which was released in 1962. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
The film, Lolita, was released in June of 1962. It was directed by Stanley Kubrick, who as you may know, is responsible for many other memorable films. Lolita, however, was said to have been the turning point in his career. The film was released during a time of uneasy, cultural change. Although the film was considered very provocative, it was difficult to assign a hard and fast genre to it. It had qualities of mystery, adventure, drama, romance/sexuality and satire with a bit of darkness.
The film, Lolita, was Kubrick's adaptation of the book by Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov released the book in the 1950s. Although both versions were considered scandalous for their respective times, the film was adapted to the point that it could have been a different story.
So, in a nutshell… Humbert Humbert, was a divorced, British professor of French Literature. He accepted a teaching position in “small-town” America. Prior to beginning his position, he decided to spend the summer in New Hampshire. He found himself looking at a room for rent by a sexually frustrated widow, Charlotte Haze, who had hot pants for him. She was extremely intense and overbearing so he decided not to rent the room… that is until he met her beautiful, 14-year-old daughter, Lolita.
Humbert was immediately taken by her beauty and allure and had fallen hopelessly in love. Lolita was a playful, flirtatious teen who was not blind to his affections. In an effort to be close to her, he married her mother, Charlotte.
After becoming trapped in a loveless marriage with an ulterior motive, Humbert became increasingly frustrated. When his new wife discovered his journal and learned of his feelings and flirtations between the two, she sent Lolita away to summer camp. To his disappointment, Lolita was finding herself attracted to young boys at the camp.
This would not do so he picked Lolita up from the camp and enrolled her in boarding school hoping that she would stop keeping company with boys. Ultimately, he took her from the school and took off on the run, going cross country with the object of his affection. All the while he was increasingly paranoid about being followed. Being a strong-willed teen, Lolita became determined not to be controlled and was irritated by his interference in her life.
At one point, the couple became ill while on the run and ended up in the hospital. Humbert became distraught and overwhelmed after she disappeared from her hospital room.
Humbert’s hopes of being with Lolita for the rest of his life are shattered when she wrote Humbert to let him know that she had left him for his tormentor, Clare Quilty.
They had been married and she was pregnant, but he had later left her. Lolita then married another man. To add insult to injury, she had written to ask Humbert for financial help.
Humbert couldn’t stay away and when he went to see Lolita he begged her to leave her husband and to be with him. She refused his request. In the end, Humbert gave Lolita all of his money and set out to find Quilty who he saw as being responsible for ruining his life.
Eventually, Humbert found Quilty, did away with him, subsequently going to prison. That is where the story began. The story in the film was the telling of the memoir Humbert penned while serving his time in prison. In the end, he died of a heart attack while in prison; or did he die of a broken heart?
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