Partial poster art for “Lolita”
Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Lolita

MPAA Rating: R for aberrant sexuality, a strong scene of violence, nudity and some language.

Reviewed by: Debbie Blanton
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama / Romance
Length:
2 hr. 17 min.
R

Starring: Jeremy Irons, Melanie Griffith, Frank Langella, Dominique Swain, Suzanne Shepherd, Keith Reddin | Directed by: Adrian Lyne

“Lolita” is best summed up in two words: sickening and disturbing.

“Lolita” is a film mired in controversy and rightly so. Even after all the controversy it is still hard to believe that this movie was released. Some may say that at least they didn’t show an actual sexual scene between this adult and 14-year-old child, but this is not the point. The obvious sexual relationship between these two characters is way too much in itself.

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Jeremy Irons stars as Humbert Humbert, an aging French academic who comes to New England, where he’s accepted a teaching post at a local college. He inquires about a room at the messy estate of Charlotte Haze (Melanie Griffith), a pretentious, fading beauty. After laying his eyes upon Dolores, aka “Lolita” (Dominique Swain), her precocious 14-year-old daughter, he decides to take it. With her hair done up in pigtails and her feet idly splashing in the lawn sprinkler, she is the sensual, dewy personification of Annabel, the lovely “nymphet” Humbert romanced as a child. Since Annabel’s untimely death, Humbert has been obsessed with young girls, and he meets his match in Lolita. “Lolita. Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul,” he writes passionately in his journal as he watches her every awkward, intuitive move around the house. Soon, she’s removing her retainer to French kiss him, and Humbert finds himself plotting to run away with her. Together, the illicit lovers drive across America, but eventually, Humbert becomes delirious with jealousy. Lolita taunts him, while a strange playwright named Clare Quilty (Frank Langella) is hot on their trail.

Not only did I have a problem with the theme of “Lolita”, but the story itself was none too fascinating. There seemed to be no actual substance, other than using the film as a medium to shock viewers. There were several uses of profanity, including uses of the Lord’s name in vain. Beyond this there were SEVERAL instances of sensuality and implied sex between these two characters. There is also aberrant sexuality, nudity, and a strong scene of violence. Lolita seduces Humbert in order to get her way in numerous occasions as well.

The theme of the movie speaks for itself. It is definitely not something that should be recommended for anyone to see. With all the discussion today about child pornography and pedophiles this movie is a perfect example of that. There are a lot of people who would argue about free speech but this is one of those movies that I believe should be banned and I can’t understand why it was ever released in the first place. What are we doing to ourselves to allow this kind of trash to be aired to the world?

Year of Release—1997

Viewer Comments
Positive—I’m a professor at a conservative liberal-arts Christian college. Here are some basic facts: 1. God created the human body and sex. When you are ashamed of them, you are ashamed of God. 2. Jesus chastised the Pharisees for their legalistic morality. When you say something is evil because it contains a certain number of words that tradition (not the Bible) has decided are immoral, or a certain number of references to sex, then you are being much more like Pharisees than like our Lord. 3. We are called, above all, to worship God with all our heart, soul, MIND, and strength. When you throw your MIND out the window, when you reject profound considerations of the human condition and embrace shallow, mindless movies that lie about the human condition, you are disobeying God’s first commandment even as you chastise the moviemakers for being evil.

Now, about LOLITA the movie. Incredibly, nowhere in your review is their mention of Nabokov’s novel, universally regarded as one of the great masterpieces of 20th century literature. Now there are some differences between novel and movie, most notably that Lolita is 12 in the novel and 14 in the movie, and that director Adrian Lyne includes very little of the novel’s humor. But both novel and movie deal with pedophilia in order to understand it and to show its terrible consequences. Given how common pedophilia seems to be in the culture, a work like LOLITA may be more important than ever. Because it understands the sin of Humbert Humbert while doing the very opposite of condoning it, LOLITA is an impeccably moral work; that morality infuses both novel and movie.
—Mark Andrews, age 35