The Fairest of Them All

         One movie and literary work comes to mind when I think of my favorite film-literature combination. I can imagine all of the beautiful costumes, the singing, and the dancing. Who would have thought that one of my favorite musicals growing up as a little girl would be a musical I would watch in this class many years later?

         When I watched George Cukor's 1964 film, My Fair Lady, based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play, Pygmalion, it brought back many good memories of watching the film with my grandparents. My Fair Lady was not really a movie I wanted to watch but did because my grandmother had promised I would like it. Not only did I end up liking this movie, I loved it!

         This movie is by far the best at capturing the emotions and relationships in the original literary work. After reading Alan J. Lerner's 1956 play, My Fair Lady, I could not wait to see the movie. The play does such a good job of illustrating the transformation of a poor flower girl into a beautiful duchess. I am a very imaginative reader. I have always been able to paint a picture of the settings and the characters in a book. I like to place myself in a book as if I were there. My Fair Lady has so much emotion in it. From Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) making her grand entrance into the house of Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) to going to the ball with Pickering (Wilfred Hyde-White) and Higgins, Eliza is on an emotional roller coaster. Eliza is pressured by Higgins to stay up all hours of the night learning English lessons. Higgins is never satisfied and thinks the only way for her to get the lessons right is to stay up at all hours of the night.

         Of course, anyone deprived of sleep becomes cranky, vulnerable, and not very pleasant to be around. This is what happens to Eliza when she is deprived of sleep. She becomes restless and feels as if she cannot continue. Everything seems to look much worse when one has not had any sleep.

         Eliza also has to deal with her drunken father (Stanley Holloway). He comes over to Higgins' house asking him for money. Eliza loves her father, but she does not like his begging habits. This is hard for her.

         I could also tell in the play and the movie that Higgins does not praise Eliza very much for a job well done. I could sense her hurtful emotions in both the play and the film. Pickering is very good about praising Eliza and making her feel good about herself.

         Deep down in her heart, I could tell that Eliza does not like being treated like a science project. She wants to turn into a refined young lady and not thrown out into the streets again after it is over.

         Eliza and Higgins have a love/hate relationship. When she does a good job with her lessons, he praises himself and not her. Sometimes he makes it seem as though he were praising her, but he always brings the praise back on himself. This really hurts Eliza's feelings.

         One of the pivotal moments in the movie occurs after the three of them have come back from the ball. The ball is the final test to see if Eliza can pass for a duchess. Audrey Hepburn looks gorgeous as she enters the room with her gown on. I can still see it in my mind. She is such an elegant young woman. This is an emotional moment in the movie. Higgins and Pickering have to pick their jaws up off the ground after seeing Eliza like this. She looks beautiful.

         When they return from the ball and the project is over, Pickering and Higgins are very mean to Eliza. Both of the men are so caught up in themselves that they do not notice how Eliza feels. Of course she is glad that she pulls off being a duchess, but now it is all over.

         It is a very emotional scene to watch. I get the feeling that Eliza has feelings for Higgins; and, now that it is over, he does not care anymore. He has proven his point, and the fun is over. The emotions and interactions between Higgins and Eliza are remarkable. Despite the fact that he was so mean to her, I wanted him to take Eliza in and care for her. He needs to make up to her all of the times he had yelled at her. I got the feeling that they do end up having a happy life together.

         My Fair Lady, the movie and the play, have lots of emotions throughout. I could not help but feel for the characters in both the film and the play. My Fair Lady is by far my favorite musical. I am so glad I had the opportunity to take this class and gain the skill of comparing and contrasting cinematic adaptations and literary works.

Katie Konrad

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