Stanley Kubrick’s “Lolita” – A Most Ambitious Fantasy

The fourth entry in Plot and Theme’s year-long look at the filmography of Stanley Kubrick.  Check out all entries here.


Introduction

In 1962, Stanley Kubrick adapted the Vladimir Nabokov novel Lolita for his sixth feature film.  Though published only 7 years earlier, Nabokov’s novel was already reaching the status of a classic work due to its controversial subject matter, witty wordplay, and themes of erotic fantasy, hebephilia, and sexual predation.  Working with Nabokov on the screenplay, Kubrick’s adaptation faithfully recreates the key aspects of the novel, capturing the sexuality, irony, and tragedy of a man who lusts after a prepubescent girl.

Still shackled by the Hayes Code, Lolita was thought to be unfilmable, and the director himself later expressed that had he known how severe the censors were going to be, he probably wouldn’t have bothered to adapt Lolita.  Fortunately, he did.

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Verhoeven and Huppert Combine to Tell a Singular Story of Feminine Strength in “Elle”

Paul Verhoeven’s Elle opens with a blank screen and the sickening sounds of sexual assault.  The first image of the film is of a cat, casually witnessing the rape.  Only after this introduction does Verhoeven confront the audience with the actual struggle:  a man clad in dark clothing and a ski mask, dominating an older woman and having his way with her.  Once he is gone, we’re introduced to Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) wordlessly; she picks herself up, straightens her clothing, cleans up some broken glass, and then takes a bath.  The blood floats up from between her legs to color the bubbles with a crimson wisp.

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