Thursday, March 27, 2008

Movie Review: Pygmalion

In 1939, this movie was nominated for four Academy Awards. And that was a decent year in motion picture history, so I thought I should check it out.

The plot? Netflix says: "When snooty phonetics professor Henry Higgins meets Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle, he bets his friend that he can elevate her lowbrow speech and pass her off as a duchess at a grand ball in just three months. Through an unrelenting string of exasperating drills, Henry transforms the uncultured Eliza into an elegant lady. Along the way, he falls in love with her … but Henry's too stubborn to admit it."

What? That sounds vaguely familiar, doesn't it? Yes, 25 years before darling Audrey could have danced all night, this movie was made in Britain, based off of Bernard Shaw's original play by the same name. Pygmalion is not as fast-paced as My Fair Lady, and because of that, more emphasis is placed on the emotion of the characters.

It is interesting to note, Shaw DID NOT want or intend for Liza and Professor Higgins to end up together. But still, in the play, the screenplay, and the musical, we are left with the conclusion that they have found an odd comfort in each other. I think I like the story better because the two characters don't have a "Hollywood Ending"; that appeals to me.

Would I recommend this movie? Yes, to someone who already has established a love of classic movies, and isn't expecting a lot of flash. If you're looking for the elaborate costuming and staging, and upbeat, romantic musical tone of My Fair Lady, you will probably be happier with something else.

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