Director: Stanley Kubrick
Screenwriters: Vladimir Nabokov

Institute History

  • 1992 Sundance Film Festival


Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 film adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel, Lolita, was the first feature film he shot entirely in England before deciding to settle there permanently. Lolita is probably Kubrick’s most detailed study of obsession and the way it controls our lives. Each character here is a person possessed. Humbert Humbert (James Mason) narrates a tale, via the pages of his diary, of his travels to Ramsdale and his discovery and perverse love for Lolita (Sue Lyon), a twelve-year-old nymphet. Catherine Hicks (Shelley Winters), Lolita’s mother, is a vulgar, driven, pathetic woman desperately searching for love and companionship. She is easily convinced that Humbert is the man who can transport her from misery to ecstasy. Plotting for Lolita’s lustful charms and the demise of Humbert, who stands in his way, is Quilty (Peter Sellers), whose clever character transformations add the crowning touch to an already-brilliant comic performance. Considered scandalous at the time, Kubrick’s black comedy cleverly sidesteps the censors by never openly depicting trysts on screen, but instead finding metaphors to imply the complete aura of sexuality which envelops these characters.

— David Alberico

Screening Details

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