Close Up

6 May 2017: Lolita


Stanley Kubrick
1961 | 147 min | B/W | DCP

"Stanley Kubrick’s sixth film, a brilliant adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s darkly humorous and controversial novel, tells the story of a middle-aged man’s unusual sexual obsession with a precociously seductive, barely pubescent teenager, filtered through an aura of incest. Although Nabokov is credited with writing the screenplay, his final published manuscript differs from the finished film, in which Kubrick greatly expanded the role of Peter Sellers." – Harvard Film Archive

A series of dubious motels and hotels are pit-stops in the scandalous road trip embarked on by titular Lolita (Sue Lyon), the underage American "nymphet," and lascivious Humbert Humbert (James Mason), the infatuated Euro academic who is her kidnapper/stepfather/suitor, in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel. Kubrick, as demonstrated again in 1980’s The Shining, knew a thing or two about using hotels as cinematic space; he also knew a thing or two about comedy – dark, satirical comedy – as he reveals here for the very first time (and again in Dr. Strangelove, his follow-up). Made from a double-entendre-filled (and Oscar-nominated) script by Nabokov himself.

Part of our retrospective on Stanley Kubrick