Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002489, Wed, 22 Oct 1997 09:43:15 -0700

Eng. Translation of Italia Review of Schiff/Lyne LOLITA
EDITOR's NOTE. NABOKV-L thanks Andrea Carosso <carosso@cisi.unito.it> for
the following translation.

After reading (and learning) lots from this list, I am glad to be of help.
I only translated the review, due to lack of time. Please let me know if you
still need the interview as well, and I'll do my best within the next week.
The translation is pretty literal, because it has been made on the fly with
no revisions. Hope this suffices for overall comprehension of the piece.

May I simply point out that the review [...... is] far
from the standard of writing that normally circulates on this list. ... Not
to mention the last sentence, which is just senseless.
I believe much better stuff has been written in the Italian national press
upon Lolita's release in this country.
I may even have something on my hard disk, should anyone be interested.
I wonder where this review was published, if at all (reVision does not sound
like an Italian newspaper or news agency, at least to my knowdedge).

At 10.04 21/10/97 -0700, you wrote:
>For those of us not fluent in Italian, is there an English version, or
>could anyone take up translating this? I would love to be able to read it.
>Thank you.
>>EDITOR's NOTE. NABOKV-L thanks our Italian correspondent Fiamma Folli
>><fiammaf@tin.it> for the follow LO review and interview with Dmitri
>>Nabokov from the Italian press.
>>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>>"Lolita, luce della mia vita, fuoco dei miei lombi. Mio peccato,
>>anima mia. Lo-li-ta: la punta della lingua compie un percorso di tre passi
>>sul palato per battere, al terzo, contro i denti. Lo. Li. Ta. Era Lo,
>>semplicemente Lo al mattino, ritta nel suo metro e quarantasette con un
>>calzino solo. Era Lola in pantaloni. Era Dolly a scuola. Era Dolores sulla
>>linea tratteggiata dei documenti. Ma tra le mie braccia era sempre Lolita".
This is the beginning of Lolita, VN's masterpiece, and this is the beginning
of the film bearing the same name, with a screenplay by journalist and
critic S. Schiff and directed by A. Lyne (Indecent Proposal, Fatal
Attraction, Flashdance)

The scandalous history of a forbidden and fatal love between refined and
brilliant professor HH and 12-year-old Lolita was brought to the screen by S
Kubrick long ago, in 1962. Nobody could imagine there would be someone as
brave as to "challenge" the master, with a new version ... A. Lyne has taken
up the challenge with passion and great skill, we might add, and has brought
Lolita and her aging lover back to life. For Humbert's role, Lyne
immediately thought of Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons, an actor
particularly at ease with obscure and torn characters.

More difficult was it for the director to give Lolita a face. Lyne
auditioned over 2500 young girls before finding the right one. The role was
given to then 15-year-old D. Swain, a Malibu High School student, a girl
like many others except for her special freshness and charm, a "nymphet"
endowed with something extra, like Nabokov's little Lolita. To work with
Irons and Dominique, Lyne hired two popular actors: M. Griffith and F.
Lagella, respectively as L's mother and a-moral Quilty, a lurer of young
girls and pornographer.

It is on the basis of such reputed cast as well as the (very precious)
advice of Nabokov's son Dmitri that Lyne built up his own Lolita, which we
might describe as a sort of visual copy of Nabokov's novel, thanks to the
effectiveness with which the author's words are translated into images.
Contrary to Kubrick, who had bent the story to his own narrative taste, Lyne
is scrupulously faithful to the text, rendering its spirit and narrative
structure on the screen. It is thus impossible to compare the novel's two
film versions, and even harder is it to evaluate them in light of one unique
canon, because they are the result of different choices.

We may say that Nabokov inspired two films: one, Kubrik's, which takes its
cue from the original while cultivating different aims; the other, Lyne's,
which strives to render by images the author's vision.
As far as we are concerned, we regard Lyne's Lolita a film directed with
passion and wonderfully acted.

Like many American made movies, it certainly needs a few cuts, especially in
the last part, but all in all we can say that this is good work.

ANDREA CAROSSO Dip. Scienze del Linguaggio
Universita' di Torino Via S. Ottavio, 20 - 10124 Torino, Italy
fax +39 11 889-983 / 817-7556
e-mail carosso@cisi.unito.it