A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie deals with an older man having a strong desire for a teen girl that leads to an affair. There is a shooting and a woman commits suicide by running in front of a car -- both are implied and off-screen.
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What's the story?
Professor Humbert Humbert (James Mason) seeks a relaxing summer in the resort town of Ramsdale, New Hampshire, where he finds a room to rent in the house of a shrill, middle-aged widow, Charlotte Haze (Shelley Winters). He is immediately infatuated with her daughter, Lolita (Sue Lyon). Charlotte falls for Humbert, and he marries her to stay close to Lolita. When his new wife finds his diary containing his confession of love for Lolita, she commits suicide. Humbert pulls Lolita out of summer camp under the guise that her mother is sick and they need to return home. A long and somewhat tense road trip follows, where Humbert eventually seduces her and reveals the truth about her mother. Lolita, who had been enjoying his attention until this point, realizes the grave nature of her situation, and is forced to remain his concubine -- that is until a mysterious stranger pokes his nose in the affair, threatening to expose their illegal relationship to the world.
Is it any good?
Peter Sellers turns in a great performance, as Clare Quilty. He takes on several different personas throughout the film to fool Humbert and gain access to Lolita -- a preview of his multiple roles in Kubrick's next film, Dr. Strangelove.
Translating a controversial novel like LOLITA to the big screen was an incredible feat in 1962. Director Stanley Kubrick, working from author Vladimir Nabokov's own screenplay, was able to convey the forbidden thoughts and actions of Humbert without upsetting censors. While the film isn't remembered as one of Kubrick's best, it's quite engaging and even surprising in its ability to make viewers sympathize with an ill-intentioned character like Humbert.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about representations of teen girl sexuality, from Lolita's sunglasses to Britney Spears' school girl uniform. Why do these images become popular in our culture? Do you think they are ever powerful -- or offensive?
In the end, is Lolita portayed as powerful or simply pathetic?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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