Lolita (1962) (1961)

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Released 3-Sep-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Awards
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1961
Running Time 147:13
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (84:34) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Stanley Kubrick
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring James Mason
Shelley Winters
Peter Sellers
Sue Lyon
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Nelson Riddle


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Stanley Kubrick never made a straightforward movie. His most recent movie, Eyes Wide Shut, raised some controversy with some of the sexual images displayed, and the censorship of them in the US. But this was far from the first time there was controversy over sexual content in his movies. Lolita caused a ruckus of its own. The novel, by Vladimir Nabokov, was controversial, and the big question was "how did they ever make a movie of Lolita?" - the question is even raised throughout the trailer. I think the answer was "very carefully"! They were careful never to show Humbert and Lolita kissing on-screen, and there are some carefully placed fades to black. It's an interesting insight into the changes in culture over the last forty years, when you consider that Eyes Wide Shut was quite explicit, while Lolita is so very discreet. Of course, Eyes Wide Shut concerns sexual obsession of a husband about his wife, whereas Lolita is about the sexual obsession of a middle-aged man for a young girl. Her age is never stated, but it is quite clear she is in her middle teen years. That is rather a different situation.

    The acting in Lolita is uniformly impressive. Shelley Winters has a difficult role as an insecure widow, and she carries it off well. James Mason is superb as the obsessed Humbert Humbert. Peter Sellers is remarkable as Clare Quilty, the sinister screen-writer with his silent companion. And Sue Lyon is amazing in the title role - she can be innocent, seductive, ingenuous, wilful, all in one - hard to believe that this was her first role. I recognised the actresses in one of the bit parts - Lois Maxwell, better known for playing Miss Moneypenny in a long sequence of James Bond films.

    The very discretion of Lolita makes it easier to concentrate on its study of obsession. I rather suspect that Lolita will be regarded as a classic film for far longer than Eyes Wide Shut. Maybe this suggests that subtlety and suggestion are more powerful tools?

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a black-and-white film, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 (not uncommon in Europe). It is not 16x9 enhanced. The 1.66:1 aspect ratio falls between the aspect ratio of a standard 4x3 TV, and a widescreen 16x9 display. A 1.66:1 image may be presented in a 4x3 frame with black bars above and below, or in a 16x9 frame, with black bars to the left and right. The former displays better on a 4x3 display, while the latter looks better on a 16x9 display.

    The picture is quite sharp, with fair shadow detail; shadow detail always seems somewhat reduced in black and white film - I'm not sure why. If the picture were much sharper I fear it would suffer badly from aliasing. There's no low-level noise - blacks are deep rich black.

    There's no colour to see. There are a few moments showing slightly oversaturated whites, but these are scenes in bright light, so they look acceptable. The range of tones from black to white is nice and even, unlike the R1 version, which displays uneven tonality, and excessive contrast.

    This picture is surprisingly clean, displaying very few artefacts. There are traces of aliasing, but I've seen modern films showing considerably more. The film used for the transfer is spotless, showing no film artefacts whatsoever. No MPEG artefacts. All up, I am delighted with the quality.

    There are subtitles in several languages, including two tracks in English, both standard and hearing impaired. The subtitles are presented in a a simple sans-serif font, white with a black border. They are quite accurate, with occasional abbreviation.

    The disc is single sided and dual layered. The layer change is concealed in a black screen between scenes at 84:34 - expert work.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three soundtracks, in English, French, and Italian, all mono. I only listened to the English soundtrack.

    Dialogue is clear and very easily understood. That's critical to this movie. I saw no audio sync problems.

    The score, by Nelson Riddle, is limited - a lot of the scenes have no musical accompaniment. It backs the most emotional scenes.

    This is a mono soundtrack. No surround sound, and no subwoofer, not even a stereo image. But it is clear, offers good fidelity, and has adequate dynamic range. I don't think this film needs any more than this.



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras are basic.

Menu

    The menu is static, with music..

Awards

    This is a single page mentioning the film's nomination for an Oscar, and Sue Lyon's winning of a Golden Globe.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is a short trailer (0:59) presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc has exactly the same features, but fewer languages in sound and subtitles, and it comes in a snapper case. Direct comparison of the two shows that the R1 has a poorer video transfer, with excessive contrast making the image look quite harsh. No doubt in my mind - we have the better disc.

Summary

    Lolita is an interesting movie, presented well on DVD.

    The video quality is quite good for a black and white picture.

    The audio quality is rather good for a mono soundtrack.

    The extras are basic.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, September 17, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Anthony H (read my bio)
region4dvd.net - Daniel R

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