Lolita by Stanley Kubrick (1962, UK/US, 152 min). Lolita is an adaptation of the novel by Vladimir Nabokov in which the sophisticated Englishman, Humbert Humbert, rents a room from the vulgar American Charlotte Haze. Charlotte quickly falls for Humbert, but Humbert only has eyes for his landlady’s young daughter Lolita, and he decides to marry Charlotte in order to be closer to her daughter.
The film’s protagonist Humbert can be viewed as a pederastic representative of old Europe yearning for the flower of American youth. He attempts to make himself appear as a sympathetic paedophile by professing his love and devotion towards Lolita, despite the fact that he ruins her childhood and only seems somewhat aware of this at the very end of the film. The film is seen from Humbert’s point of view, but maintains a witty and detached stance towards his unreliable narration. The film deals with paedophilia, incest and murder seen from the point of view of the perpetrator which underlines the importance and power of narration. The film merely hints at Lolita’s suffering, while it vividly portrays Humbert’s anxiety, lust and jealousy. Her life and story are lost in his narrative.
Kubrick’s Lolita is overwhelmingly ironic and anti-sentimental in its depiction of dark and transgressive desires; it mocks Humbert, but also questions the morality and intentions of those around him, depicting a very grim moral universe.
Chamber and Partners, London