Pygmalion Was Pretty Perfect

         George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion and Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard’s 1913 movie Pygmalion were very much alike. The settings, dialogue, and tone from the play all seemed to be well represented in the move. Every movie, in some way, differs from the book, or in this case, the play in which it was interpreted from. Pygmalion, so far, as been the closest to the play we read. The movie was an excellent display of what a “good” movie consist of; again, the dialogue, acting, setting, and tone helped this move to excel.

         Dialogue in a movie is nothing if the character and her acting is not appropriate. In Pygmalion, Wendy Hiller, who plays Eliza Doolittle, does an excellent job portraying a poor, uneducated girl. Her dialogue with the people on the streets in the opening scene shows what an excellent actress she is. Throughout the whole movie, we see how she progresses into a lady. Her transformation, through dialogue alone, is one that should be noticed.

         Along with Eliza’s transformation, one should also notice Higgins’ performance. Although Leslie Howard, who depicts Higgins, does not make a huge transformation like Eliza, his acting is also not to go unnoticed. His dialogue with Eliza and Colonel Pickering make him a very effective actor for this role. Although his character has a bad attitude, one can see his passion for acting. Leslie Howard and Scott Sunderland both dominate their roles in Pygmalion, proving that they are an excellent pair to be cast.

         Though in most cases where a woman and man have the leading roles in a movie, this would be a love story, Pygmalion is quite different. The tone of this movie is not loving and happy; is almost serious with a comical twist. The movie shines light on the social classes during this time. Though the movie could have taken a quite different tone and followed a love story between Eliza and Higgins, thankfully, which did not happen.

         The setting set this movie apart from any I have seen. Eliza was taken out of the lowest of low home life, off the street as a flower girl and assimilated into a new, high-class culture. Higgins’ home is so immaculate, which is opposite. In this case, the dramatic changes from Eliza’s old poor lifestyle to her new, extravagant life in Higgins’ home helps portray the true meaning of the storyline.

         Pygmalion was well cast by Anthony Asquith, when he chose Leslie Higgins to play Higgins and Wendy Hiller to play Eliza Doolittle. As I said, a movie is nothing without great characters that fulfill the role they are playing. The dialogue they speak is also nothing without believable actors. The setting helped the audience to believe the story with such a contrast in different scenes. Lastly, the tone of the movie was set by all of this, the dialogue, actors, and setting. Overall, this movie was well cast, well written, and well worth watching.

Brooke Dunbar

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