morricone and lolita

I thought I’d share some idle thoughts I had this weekend – about one of my favorite books and favorite scores and how they are incongruent in a weird way. Nabakov’s Lolita is one of my favorite novels for so many reasons – key among them being the subtlety of Nabakov’s accomplishment in the ultimate unreliable narrator. (Uh, don’t read this, I guess, if you haven’t read Lolita). You want to sympathize with Humbert in various ways here and there, but by the end of the book, you just have this really bad taste in your mouth. It’s not a love story, and it’s not supposed to be romantic. You suspect you’ve been misled. This is why the more recent movie with Jeremy Irons and Dominique Swain bugged me (I’ve actually never seen the Kubrick version). This version of the story does a very poor job of communicating that distaste and distrust of the narrator (if it can be argued they made any attempt at all). Dominique Swain, being 17 when this movie was filmed, was hot in a very womanly way (in the book, Lolita was 12 at the start) and we’re presented with a much less subtle taboo/forbidden love story. Anyways, I’m sure film and novel critics better than me have dissected this at length. That said, it’s not a bad movie. And it’s all the more pleasant to watch because of Ennio Morricone’s absolutely gorgeous score, which is easily one of my favorites of his. And it’s his score that really drives home the wistful sadness and romantic beauty of the movie – elements which I didn’t think really belonged. You can listen to some excerpts here:

… or elsewhere on youtube.

I just find it amusing that one of my favorite musical scores is, paradoxically, partially to blame for why I disliked a movie.