Plays Come Alive on the Silver Screen

         I want to start out by saying that I enjoyed reading George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion as well as Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe's 1956 musical interpretation, My Fair Lady. Both plays provide the reader with a general amount of description concerning this tale but both still leave a little to be desired by the reader. Though both show their own distinct style of presenting this story, I still was not able to comprehend the complexity of the situation that was at hand. The visual aspect was missing. When I was able to see the movie adaptations, Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard's 1938 Pygmalion and George Cukor's 1964 My Fair Lady, they allowed me to get a better grasp as to what Mr. Shaw was trying to convey all along. The movies helped me to better organize my thoughts as I watched them.

         Some people learn better by hearing the information, others by reading the information, the rest by visually seeing the information in front of them. I am able to interpret better when I can see the information and have it shown to me. That is the reason that I believe the movies are a great complement to Shaw's book. They give the reader a sense of what is happening.

         In the movies, one can actually see the condition Eliza (Wendy Hiller/Audrey Hepburn) is in before Higgins (Leslie Howard/Rex Harrrison) takes her on. In both films, she wears ragged clothes, talks with a horrible accent, and carries herself in a very poor manner. I did not realize Higgins had such a job on his hands until I actually saw the state Eliza was in. I could not quite imagine what was taking place or the measures that were being taken.

         In both versions, I was also able to see the effort that Eliza put forth in this whole process. It was very hard for her being turned into a completely different woman. I also was able to aurally and visually take in how hard Higgins pushed Eliza to conform to his ideas and techniques. In both movies, I was able to hear the tone of voice he used with her and to see the superiority in his eyes as he scowled at her from time to time. I noted the body language that he used towards her and how his attitude about her shadowed his personality. He had a certain swagger about himself that made everyone else look and feel inferior to him.

         What I am trying to convey is that the movies benefitted me more than the books did. The books were good backdrops of information, but the films allowed me to better take in the ideas and meaning. The cinematic adaptation of these particular plays (Pygmalion and My Fair Lady) helped me to better comprehend the main thoughts and expressions that Shaw wanted to convey himself.

Josh Smith

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