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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 7/21/99
updated: 6/15/01




Lolita

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

The Films of Stanley Kubrick on DVD


Lolita (new Kubrick Collection)


Lolita
1961 (2001) - Warner Bros.

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B+/C-

Specs and Features

153 mins, NR, matted widescreen (1.66:1), single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:31.46, right before chapter 28), Snapper case packaging, awards list, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with music, scene access (42 chapters), languages: English and French (DD mono), subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, Close Captioned



Lolita - Kubrick Collection


Lolita
1961 (1999) - Warner Bros.

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B/C-

Specs and Features

153 mins, NR, matted widescreen (1.66:1), single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:31.49, right before chapter 28), Snapper case packaging, awards list, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with music, scene access (42 chapters), languages: English and French (DD mono), subtitles: English and French, Close Captioned


Stanley Kubrick liked him some controversy. So when people in the know went around claiming that Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita could never be made as a feature film, he set about tackling that challenge and made the film. The project was put on hold while he did Spartacus, but after the headaches involved with that film were past, Lolita went on the fast track.

Kubrick actually approached Nabokov to adapt his own novel, which was, in a way, a very good move. But in a way, it was also bad. Kubrick likes to rewrite while he works, and of course, when you have someone as talented as Peter Sellers working with you, you have no choice but to change the character as you go along. Clare Quilty, as a character, isn't as big in either the novel or the original script as he finally appears on screen. The character was made larger to house the huge improv acting that Sellers and Kubrick created on the set. It's hard to imagine now - Kubrick rewriting someone like Nabokov - but then again, I think it's a perfect idea. I mean, who else BUT Kubrick would even dare to rewrite Nabokov?

Suffice it to say, Lolita was a very successful merging of the talents of Kubrick, Nabokov and Sellers (so much so, that Kubrick and Sellers came back together on Dr. Strangelove, with Sellers playing no less than three characters). The story follows a stuffy English professor, Humbert Humbert (James Mason), who finds himself in the quiet state of New Hampshire, living with the Haze family. Charlotte and Dolores Haze are a mother and daughter who offer up their household for intellectual boarders. Charlotte has plans of marrying again, while Dolores' plans are a little more unknown (maybe even to herself). It would probably help to know that Dolores is the 12 year-old Lolita in the title, and Humbert has an uncontrollable infatuation for her. He immediately moves in, marries Charlotte, and through a series of unimaginable circumstances, becomes the sole parental figure in Lolita's life (which doesn't necessarily keep him from consummating his love for the young girl). The whole thing is very uncomfortable to watch - not because what's going on on-screen is morally wrong, but because everyone on screen is stupid (in a smart way). Sellers (as Quilty) really steals every aspect of the film, and the opening prologue/epilogue is just a thrill to watch. He really was a marvelous actor.

Of all the DVDs originally mastered by Warner, this is the one that looked the "best", but there were still problems. I noticed some edge enhancement (especially in the window blinds) and a few patches of noise. Thankfully, those problems have been fixed by the remastering of this new DVD version. The black and white photography is even better represented. The blacks, whites and grays are even more lush than I ever thought thay could be, and any flashing I saw in the original transfer is now gone. This is a great looking film on DVD.

The mono sound is good on both discs, with no defects of any kind that would discourage listening. As for extras... well, Warner included the trailer and an awards listing. Light to say the least, but it's how Stanley wanted it.

I haven't watched Lolita in a long while, and it was good to see what old Humbert was up too again. I still wish it wasn't such a bare-bones DVD. Alas, they won't do anything extra, so what we get is not much. And yet, when you think about it, finally getting these films on DVD in this beautiful way is everything.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com

The Films of Stanley Kubrick on DVD

Lolita (new version)


The Stanley Kubrick Collection (new version)


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