Kubrick-fest 05 - Lolita

Yes, in the sense there is doubt. But he’s not thoroughly using multiple layers of techniques yet a la Orange, Lyndon or The Shining. But he’s developing those. Its enough for me in this work. My interpretation with all the ambiguities and “or, ifs and buts” largely converge with yours. I think your point regarding the omniscient narrator compared to, say, an omniscient (?) narrator with a subtle “take” on the events in Lyndon is an interesting comparison.

l agree. That was one of the things that l remember the most from the book actually, so l probably took it a bit as granted while watching the movie; but yes, it is clearly not obvious at all. That being said, how do you transpose that in a movie? By definition, the true narrator is always the camera (l’m trying to find a good, convincing example of unreliable narrator in a movie right now).

The Shining. Camera PoVs reflect different experiences of different characters, that are at variance. Altman’s Images and Roeg’s Performance and Don’t look Now are a couple of others.

In terms of unreliable voiceover narration many examples abound.

Ellipsis creating ambiguity are another common technique. You don’t see what happens, just people talking about it. This is somewhat in operation here, though muted.

Agree. We never “saw it” but its referred to without other confirmation is an under appreciated and subtle technique. Brunel is another one I’d throw out there off the top of my head. But in the above examples, Altman, Kubrick and Roeg are taking those surrealist techniques to a new level in how they integrate with the narrative, IMO. In the sense that they can’t be pegged as “Surrealist” works. Because they really are not.

Yes, but as you say, it “reflects” the POV;it isn’t the POV. So don’t we need, as spectators, to somehow intellectualize what we are watching, to add a layer of interpretation, and to constantly think “this is in fact Shelley Duvall’s POV”? While when reading a book, the relation narrator/reader, is a direct one, and as such doesn’t require the reader to make this effort. Thus, to me, the manipulation is even stronger in this case, precisely because not mediated.

(l realise l’m probably not clear at all. l’m very tired, and should think more about that).

PS: l was answering to your post about the Shining. l am very slow at typing.

Agreed, but for me, this is a literature trick, not something specific to cinema.

Not when the filmmaker cues you. Example, Jack sees things that make no sense, but we write it off as supernatural. Or Psychotic? Even our PoV is unreliable at times in that film (many deliberate continuity errors from a neutral PoV). If you don’t get the cue, cool.

But let’s save the deep Shining talk for that entry, Because there’s gonna be a lotta when we do that one, I sense it…

And I agree you should probably go to sleep before we engage in discussion about esoteric creative techniques.

The keywords there are “for me“.

Having never seen it, I am curious and will have a lot to say as a first time viewer.

As for this Kubrick film? I don’t have much to add here. What thoughts I had have largely been covered above, vis a vis narrator insert and perspective reliability. This is a movie I wasn’t as interested in due to subject, and ultimately prefer the previous 3 films to it. Sellers is, as usual, a stand out. Anyhow enough from me now, I’m more interested in seeing the continuation of the discussion above.

Zoinks, its time for the next entry! I’ll have it up tomorrow AM EST.

Whattya know, Kurbic-fest 6 is up! But I really like the Lolita discussion so don’t stop!

Some Ramblings on Quilty, Narrators, Reliability, PoVs and Perspective

So after some processing and thought.

The film opens with the killing of Quilty. Quilty admits nothing regarding Lolita, its merely apparent he was a dissolute type.

We’re introduced to the main narrative via a first person voice-over narrator (a technique only used from time to time) Humbert. Humbert is a pedophile. He also proves to be delusional, paranoid and possibly insane as the film progresses.

Question - Is that a reliable narrator?

We only see Quilty in the presence of other characters in the film (other than Humbert) once, at the Dance. Every other time his presence in the film, even in reference, is either via a neutral POV (once, the hotel below and at the play…where no one actually interacts with him), in a one on one interaction with Humbert (remember, ultimately told to us by our first person narrator, Humbert) or he is in disguise. He is never recognized as Quilty by Humbert.

The Hotel - the acknowledgement of Quilty as Quilty is by the receptionist, a “Mr. Swine”. We see Quilty in a neutral PoV. Humbert doesn’t recognize of acknowledge him at the desk. Later, Quilty is conversing with Humbert while looking away the whole time. He “pretends” to be a policeman. Humbert is very nervous at being at a police convention.

Humbert is visited at Home by “Quilty” disguised as a school psychologist. He does not recognized him as Quilty. Humbert feels VERY threatened and is VERY disturbed by the visit as it may threaten to uncover his relationship with Lolita.

“Quilty” calls Humbert at the Motel. He is almost completely around the bend now. He doesn’t recognize “Quilty”. We do.

The mysterious stalker who ruined Humberts wonderful life with his nymphet is revealed by a private conversation between Humbert and Lolita. It all becomes perfectly crystal clear to Humbert now! Quilty ruined everything and has been persecuting him! He departs to kill Quilty.