Platonic versus Romantic Love

         George Bernard Shaw's intentions were not to make HIS 1913 Pygmalion a love story. He created the idea of fairy tale romance that involves plucking a "squashed cabbage leaf" of a girl from the gutter and turning her into a lady with the charm and elegance of a Duchess. The forefront of the story is not the relationship between Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins in the romantic viewpoint but rather their mutual respect for one another as companions or as teacher and student. It was only natural for Hollywood's interpretation to throw in a dash of "love spell" into the already romanticized plot in order to please the audience.

         The 1964 film, My Fair Lady, directed by George Cukor and based on Pygmalion, does not seem like a romantic love story either. I use the word "romantic" purposefully because, although there does seem to be a sense of love between the pair, the feelings seem to be more compassionate than romantic. There is definitely chemistry between the strong-willed Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) and the quick-tongued Henry (Rex Harrison); however; it seems to be more on a platonic level. They are constantly sparring away at each other, yet they really seem to enjoy one another's company. My Fair Lady does not outwardly seem to be an love story, but it is obvious that the Hollywood take on the Pygmalion attempted insinuate romantic feelings between the two in order to blend in with the "happily ever after" genre. It is still obvious that the relationship Shaw had in mind for Eliza and Henry was one of mutual respect fueled off of their dueling magnetism to each other.

         In the past relationships usually blossomed from a sense of companionship and compassionate love between a couple rather than from the hot and cold passionate feelings of today's times. My Fair Lady was created in the heightening of the Hollywood dramatization of the "happily ever after" prescription for a good movie, in which it was necessary to create or at least, insinuate sense of romance for the sake of the passion-obsessed audience.

         Shaw did not find the relationship aspect of the story as important as the accomplishments of the characters throughout the play Pygmalion, and this is somewhat still evident in My Fair Lady. Throughout the movie there is no obvious or direct appearance of romanticism between the two. They do not even share a passionate kiss, which usually occurs in most Hollywood romance movies. Apparently, the film makers attempted to keep a balance of staying true to Shaw's vision of the story, as well as the Hollywood idea of romanticized dramatization.

Jemekka Stray

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