Lolita is a 1962 film directed by Stanley Kubrick. Based on the 1955 Vladimir Nabokov novel of the same name, it initially received mixed reviews from critics and was very controversial at its time of release for its portrayal of ephebophilia. However, later reviews were glowing, and over time, they became much more positive.


Humbert Humbert is a European professor who arrives at Ramsdale, New Hampshire. Before his professorship begins, he wants a way to spend his summer. Humbert rents a room from a widow named Charlotte Haze. Nurturing his obsession with his teenage daughter, Lolita, he marries Charlotte. But Charlotte dies after learning about his feelings for Lolita, and Humbert seems to have Lolita all to himself, especially since Lolita doesn't know her mother's dead. However, she becomes distant from Humbert and starts spending time with kids her age, this makes him jealous and soon finds out that she is seeing someone.

Differences between film and book

Lolita is not always loyal to Vladimir Nabokov's novel. One of the most notable changes in the film is Kubrick's style of direction. Events that happened in the novel's ending occurred in the film's beginning. This is a rarely used technique called in medias res. One big change was in the book Lolita was 12 but in the film she's a teenager (the film from 1997 would keep the novel's version).

Kubrick had Nabokov's consent to have the film adaptation be like this, and said that the reason for using this technique was to maintain interest in the film, as Kubrick thought that the novel started to lose interest halfway through when Humbert had seduced Lolita.

There are also other changes, but some of them have been defended, as these differences are only due to the heavy and strict censorship of the 1960s:

In the Film In the Novel
Very little sexual innuendo More innuendo
Sexual relationship between Lolita and Humbert only implied Relationship much more graphically portrayed
Lolita was 14 years old Lolita was only 12 years old

Lolita is actually called "Lolita" by several characters

Lolita is only called "Lolita" by Humbert

Kubrick later said (in a 1972 interview) about Lolita that had he known how extreme the censorship limitations would be, he probably never would have made the film at all, because he felt that he wasn't able to make the relationship between Lolita and Humbert fully accurate.


Lolita was nominated for three Golden Globe awards and won the first one:

  • Most Promising Newcomer (Sue Lyon)
  • Best Motion Picture Actor (James Mason)
  • Best Motion Picture Actress (Shelley Winters)
  • Best Motion Picture Director (Stanley Kubrick)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Peter Sellers)

Stanley Kubrick was also nominated for two other directorial awards:

  • Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures
  • Venice Film Festival Award for Best Director

James Mason was nominated for another award as an actor: the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for Best Actor.