What We Take with us

         When people watch movies, each individual brings baggage to the theater. This is one reason why different people like one movie, while others may not. Someone that actually experienced a war would probably perceive a war movie in a different way from that of the average college student. Since my father has been a teacher for twenty-seven years, I have had some experience with the effort that teachers put into their work. Therefore, I prefer Rex Harrison's older, fatherly Henry Higgins in George Cukor's 1964 My Fair Lady to the younger Higgins of Leslie Howard in Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard's 1938 Pygmalion. Also, being a lover of musicals makes me like My Fair Lady better than Pygmalion. I have loved musicals since the first time that I saw The King and I. It is still one of my favorite movies. Though there are some that I do not like, The King and I and My Fair Lady are two of my favorites.

         In George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play and both movies, Higgins teaches a poor flower girl, Eliza Doolittle how to speak like royalty. This is quite a teaching accomplishment. Higgins is praised over and over again for his skill, as I can appreciate as a daughter of a dedicated teacher.

         Higgins was portrayed as a fairly young and handsome man in Pygmalion. Many people liked having the hero of the story portrayed in this way. They felt that it was better to have Higgins and Eliza, played by Wendy Hiller, "look" good together. This is not my view. Though I thought that Pygmalion was a good movie, I thought Higgins was too young to be a really effective teacher, like my father. Therefore, I liked My Fair Lady better. One reason for this was the depiction of Higgins. In My Fair Lady, Harrison's Higgins looked much older than Audrey Hepburn's Eliza. He was not as handsome as the Higgins in Pygmalion. Several thought that this was not the best approach. My view goes back to my history with teachers. My father acts a lot like Higgins in the movie. He is very tough about teaching and set in his ways. Though he is not a "confirmed old bachelor," his personality reminds me so much of Higgins. The Higgins in My Fair Lady also looked more fatherly than in Pygmalion. The age and looks made me feel that My Fair Lady represented my view of a teacher much better. Because of this, I liked Higgins better in My Fair Lady.

         Another difference between Pygmalion and My Fair Lady that influenced how different people felt about the movie was the musical aspect, which I really appreciated. The fact that My Fair Lady was a musical made some people hate watching it. I think that baggage comes into play here again. Musicals were very popular at the time of My Fair Lady's release. Now, except for the few that have been released in the past couple of years, musicals are almost obsolete. As a lover of musicals, I regret that so many people started to develop a different taste when it came to musicals. They were no longer seen as beautiful and entertaining. They were seen as too long because of pointless songs. People wanted to stick to the plot. They also wanted to see more realism. People do not randomly sing songs in real life as they do in musicals.

         Because of this factor, I believe that age can also be a type of baggage that people bring to the theatre. I have noticed that older people like to watch musicals, while younger people, except for those like myself, tend to actually hate watching them. There has been a change of taste of the generations. Therefore, age can also be a factor when it comes to the baggage that affects our likes and dislikes.

         As stated by many of the people in class, musicals are not really popular with today's movie audiences. However, because of my liking of musicals, I was able to see the great movie behind those "annoying" songs. The baggage that I brought with me to the movie enhanced my liking of it. The baggage that others brought may have caused them to dislike it. Each individual interprets a movie in a unique way.

Jennifer Stafford

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