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Lolita is a 1962 comedy-drama film by Stanley Kubrick based on the classic novel of the same title by Vladimir Nabokov, centred around a middle-aged man who becomes obsessed with a teenage girl. The film stars James Mason as Humbert Humbert, Sue Lyon as Dolores Haze (Lolita) and Shelley Winters as Charlotte Haze with Peter Sellers as Clare Quilty.
Due to the MPAA’s restrictions at the time, the film toned down the more provocative aspects of the novel, sometimes leaving much to the audience’s imagination. The actress who played Lolita, Sue Lyon, was fourteen at the time of filming. Kubrick later commented that, had he realized how severe the censorship limitations were going to be, he probably never would have made the film.
Set in the 1950s, the film begins in medias res with a confrontation between two men: one of them, Clare Quilty (Peter Sellers), drunk and incoherent, plays Chopin’s Polonaises Op. 40 on the piano before being shot. The shooter is Humbert Humbert (James Mason), a 40-something British professor of French literature.
The film then flashes back to events four years earlier.
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