Eliza’s Transformation

         I really enjoyed the entire concept of Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard’s 1938 Pygmalion and George Cukor’s 1964 My Fair Lady more so than any other film this semester. Both of these films were based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 Pygmalion.

         I thought the opening scene was really interesting because I liked the fact that Henry Higgins was a phonetics expert. I had never seen a phonetics professor depicted in a film, and I thought it was a great beginning to the story because it made Higgins’ (Leslie Howard/Rex Harrison) transformation of Eliza (Wendy Hiller/Audrey Hepburn) seem a bit less shallow and materialistic. Of course he cared about her appearance by the end of the story, but he truly wanted to change the way she presented herself to the public, and he knew that the first thing he had to tackle was her natural dialect. I thought it made the transformation more charming because he was not simply trying to change the way she looked.

         As the story continued, the transformation of Eliza (in both the film and the musical) was intriguing for the viewer. Eliza’s character had a humorous, charming aura about her in both films, so the viewer could not help but root for Eliza to overcome her unfortunate flower girl roots, and most of all, her dialect. Although I found her dialect to be quite interesting, the viewers, including me, cannot wait for Eliza to finally begin to speak the way Higgins has instructed. When Eliza finally lost her accent, it was as though she had been completely transformed. Then, when she dressed up for the ball, it was a whole other step for Eliza. I thought it was really interesting to see the entire transformation because it kept the audience wondering how Eliza would finally turn out after all of Higgins’ hard work.

         I did, however, like the fact that Eliza had second thoughts about her transformation even though it turned out beautifully. I thought Eliza’s wariness about her transformation toward the end of the film showed her true character, which is what made me like her from the beginning.


Autumn Boaz

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