Pygmalion versus My Fair Lady: Which One Was Better?

         We had to watch two different films for my film and literature class. The first film that we had to watch is called Pygmalion, directed in 1938 by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard. The second one that we had to watch is called My Fair Lady, directed in 1964 by George Cukor. Between these two movies, both based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion, I have noticed many differences. In this essay, I will state those differences, between Pygmalion and My Fair Lady, and state the parts in the movies that I like the best. My Fair Lady is a much better laid-out and a better all-around movie than Pygmalion.

         Right off, the first difference I noted was that My Fair Lady was in color, as opposed to Pygmalion. This was very interesting to me because most of the movies that we have watched have been in black and white. The movie being in color made the movie much more attractive to me because I am so used to watching color movies as opposed to black and white movies. For example, when Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) was on the street selling her flowers, the flowers being in color were much more attractive than were the flowers in black and white, which Eliza (Wendy Hiller) was peddling in the older movie.

         Also, I noticed that the colorful settings in My Fair Lady were far more elaborate and beautiful than they were in Pygmalion. For example, when Eliza was in the sitting room at Mr. Higgins' house in My Fair Lady, the colorful surroundings were far more striking than the black and white room in Pygmalion. I noticed that the settings in My Fair Lady were far more elaborate and beautiful than they were in Pygmalion. Eliza's bedroom in My Fair Lady was much more beautiful that the bedroom for Eliza in Pygmalion. If I can remember right, the bedroom for the flower girl was somewhat dull. There was not very much to her room. The bed was somewhat dull and just, and there just was not much detail in Eliza's room. In addition, the wallpaper on the walls was very dull. Another setting that was different in both films was the sitting room. The sitting room for My Fair Lady was much more eloquent than the sitting room for Pygmalion. The huge balcony where the books were seen in My Fair Lady was very big and very beautiful.

         Also, I first noticed that in Pygmalion there was not much music at the beginning, and there was not much later on either except in the ball scene. On the other hand, the beautiful music in My Fair Lady made the movie a bit more interesting. Even though there was not much music in the beginning of Pygmalion, I still found it interesting; but the music at the beginning of My Fair Lady caught and kept my attention much more than did Pygmalion. A song that really made the movie more interesting was heard and pointed out the contrast between Eliza the Cockney and Eliza the educated, when Eliza went back to Covent Garden, where she used to sell flowers; the people there were singing a song, "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," that had been sung when at the beginning of the movie she was selling flowers. In addition, when Eliza was sitting in the room trying to get her vowels right, she was singing, which made the process seem less tedious. That also made the movie much more interesting.

         Next, there was the character of Eliza in My Fair Lady. She was a very interesting character with a very interesting accent. As played by Audrey Hepburn, she was also much more outgoing and willing to sell flowers than the character in Pygmalion, as depicted by Wendy Hiller, who was not very enthusiastic and outgoing as Eliza. Hepburn's Eliza made the very first part and all the rest of the film of My Fair Lady more interesting than Hiller's flower girl in Pygmalion.

         Also, I noticed that the settings in My Fair Lady were far more elaborate and beautiful than they were in Pygmalion. Eliza's bedroom in My Fair Lady was much more beautiful that the bedroom for Eliza in Pygmalion. If I can remember right, the bedroom for the flower girl was somewhat dull. There was not very much to her room. The bed was somewhat dull and just, and there just was not much detail in Eliza's room. In addition, the wallpaper on the walls was very dull. Another setting that was different in both films was the sitting room. The sitting room for My Fair Lady was much more eloquent than the sitting room for Pygmalion. The huge balcony where the books were seen in My Fair Lady was very big and very beautiful.

         Next, there was Eliza's father. In My Fair Lady, Eliza's father, as played by famous song-and-dance actor Stanley Holloway, seemed much more joyful and outgoing, kind of more like Eliza. He was singing and dancing. In Pygmalion, the flower girl's father, as depicted by Wilfred Lawson, was much more strict and harsh and kind of dull, rather like my own father. I would prefer a father like Eliza's father, joyful and outgoing. When Eliza's father comes to demand Eliza back in Pygmalion, the Professor would not give her up because she had already paid for the lessons, and he wanted her to stay there to take her lessons. In My Fair Lady, when her father comes to get his daughter, the father is more willing to let her stay, because she came on her own. Professor Higgins was willing to let her go with her father, and wanted Eliza's father to take her at once. Both Higgins pay him five pounds, although in Pygmalion, Pickering gives the money to Higgins, who does not return it. There are some very interesting points made between the two films.

         Next, in Pygmalion, Eliza, Henry and Col. Pickering meet at Mr. Higgins' house for Eliza's first public trial. This is quite different from in the movie My Fair Lady. In My Fair Lady, they take her to the Ascot horse races. Unlike in Pygmalion, in which there is no singing, in My Fair Lady at the horse races she sings, and they sing before the horse race begins. In both versions, although she tries hard, and her grammar is generally correct, she blurts out utterances that she should not have. In Pygmalion, she uses the swear word "bloody" when Freddy asks her if she is walking in Green Park. In My Fair Lady, she urges on the horse, Dover, because Freddy has given her his bet: "Come on, Dover, move your bloomin' arse." Other than the little spout from Eliza with wanting the horse to win and her language that she uses, her grammar is very good. In both movies, Higgins is not pleased with her at all when they return home, but he vows to continue working with her. In Pygmalion, we are shown scenes of Eliza working hard after this scene before she goes to the ball, whereas in My Fair Lady, the action goes right to the time before the ball.

         In conclusion, I have tried to show many differences between the films Pygmalion, and My Fair Lady. By referring to my favorite parts from the films. I hope that these differences can help you to decide which of the two films that you like better. The film that I prefer the most and enjoyed the most was My Fair Lady.

Michelle Loveridge

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