The movie My Fair Lady tells love story between a flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, and a phonetic professor, Henry Higgins. The movie was made in chronological order. Eliza Doolittle, played by Audrey Hepburn, was a poor girl with “low-class” accent. She wanted to learn formal English in order to get a better job in a flower store. Therefore, she went to Henry Higgins, an arrogant phonetic professor who eventually decided to accept Colonel Pickering’s challenged of transforming Eliza into a lady with perfect English and manner. After Henry accepted the challenge, he trained Eliza for six months in his house along with Colonel Pickering as witness of this challenge. After six months, in order to claim his success, Henry Higgins decided to send Eliza to the embassy ball hold by the queen of England. After Eliza successfully tricked everyone in the ball into thinking she is a Hungarian princess, no one encouraged her. With sense of lost, Eliza left Higgins’ house. However, both Eliza and Henry realized that they will not be happy without each other; therefore, Eliza went back to Henry.
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The movie “My Fair Lady” revealed that even though social class plays very important roles in English life, people would only find happiness with clear understanding of themselves. The first scene of the film showed the clear difference between social classes. Women came out of the Covent Garden in a rainy day dressed in bright colored, fluffy fur coats that represented their wealth. Speaking softly and slowly, women were wearing exaggerated fancy hats and bright jewels. On the other hand, Eliza Doolittle was dressed in a fitted dark green dress; her slim figure contrasted against other wealthy people in fancy costumes in front of Covent Garden, which shows the clear border between different classes in England. In the first scene, no one wanted to talk to Eliza, or to help her out when she was humiliated by Henry Higgins because of her accent, which also proved how distanced social classes was in England. As Eliza worked her way out of the lower-class into her bright future as a lady in flower shop, she was losing her identity. Even though she was poor before she moved to Henry’s house, Eliza was happy living her life as a flower girl in the ghetto. However, after escaped from Henry’s house, Eliza found herself nowhere to go because she was no longer that poor flower girl she used to be. When she got back to the place she used to pick up the flower she sells, the fact that no one could recognize her disappointed Eliza. She lost her identity along with her happiness because she was neither in the upper nor lower class.
Even though there was no flashback being used in the movie, the director embraced the original music of the play “Pygmalion” to inform the characters’ point of view many times throughout the movie. Lyrics were written according to characters’ emotions and thoughts. For Example, the song “Why Can’t the English” expressed Henry Higgins’ disappointment; “Wouldn’t It Be Lovely” expressed Eliza’s hope toward her future life; “With a Little Bit of Luck” revealed Alfred Doolittle’s attitude toward life, as well as his personality; “I’m an Ordinary Man” revealed Henry Higgins’ prejudice toward women; “Just You Wait” expressed Eliza’s hatred on Henry Higgins for his harsh words and crucial training; “I Could Have Danced All Night” revealed Eliza’s happiness and sense of achievement after she finally accomplished in speaking formal English; “On the Street Where You Live” expressed Freddy’s dedication and love toward Eliza. There are total of twenty-five music pieces in both the movie and the play, each of them contributed in expressing the emotions of different characters to the audience.
Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison and other actors participated in the movie are definitely worthy of compliments. Acting in the movie is very realistic except the moves designed for the music. For example, when Audrey Hepburn moved according the lyric written in the song “Wouldn’t be Lovely”, it was mannered, however, in a good way. She sat on a jute bag and put her hands up as she was sitting on a luxurious chair when she sang “Far away from the cold night air, with one enormous chair”. Even though it was mannered, but the moves showed her endearing personality and hope toward her future. Characters of the movie are dynamic in different ways. Henry Higgins, the arrogant professor refused to let women in his life, later found out the positive energy Eliza brought to his life, and realized it was hard to adapt his life without Eliza. Eliza Doolittle, on the other hand, has changed throughout the movie on different levels. She started out as a flower girl who not only speaks poor English, but also noisy and harassing. As she started to learn English, she became more and more calm and mature, with improved communication skills. Alfred Doolittle, who loves money as always, changed from a lower class alcoholic to an upper class citizen and remained his non-greedy quality.
The editing of the movie was brilliant, as well as the quality of photography and lighting. For transitions, there were lots of form cuts being used in the movie in order to create a smoother and united transition. The very first form cut is actually in the first scene of the movie, when the close up of flowers in the head leader turned to the decorative flowers in the Covent Garden. Also, the night before Alfred Doolittle’s wedding, the editor also used form cut to create a happy and easy atmosphere for the audience to relate too. Other times, editor used straight cuts to connect different scenes together to tell the story. Since the movie was released in the year of 1965, there was barely any special effect being used in the movie. The only special effect was when Eliza daydreamed about Henry Higgins being killed by the king. The editor blurred the background, leaving only Eliza and the king clear, to create the feeling of daydreaming. The lighting of the movie was very consistent. The main characters, Eliza and Henry were always in the light. One scene I could never forget is the night of the embassy ball, when Eliza first time walked down the stairs in Henry’s house. The light was following her, making her face as glowing as her pearl dressing.
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The art design played an enormously important role in the movie. The color of costumes represents social class. When we first see Eliza as a poor flower girl, she was wearing a very dark green dress with a matching hat; whereas the wealthy women were wearing very colorful outfits. As she moved to Henry Higgins’ house and learned to become a lady-like woman, her costumes changed gradually. She no longer wears dark and earthy toned colors; instead, she wore mostly combination of colors like white and greens, reds and pinks. Finally, in her big night of the embassy ball, she wore an elegant pearl dress with shining jewelry. The art director used lighting to distinguish social class; places as wealthy as the Covent Garden was very bright, as the ghetto across it was in very low lighting. Also, Eliza’s make-up was altered gradually as well. She started out with no eye make-up and clean face. Her make-up built up gradually as the movie goes on. For example, when she first time spoke English correctly, she had pink blush on her cheeks to further emphasis her happiness and excitement. George Cukor is a very artistic director, who concentrated his career on comedies and literary adoptions. He is great at utilizing art design to tell a story, and focus on the details of the movie. Before the embassy ball where Eliza was determined as a Hungarian princess, there were multiple scenes where Henry was standing on the stairs and Eliza raised her head to talk to Henry. At the night of embassy ball, when Eliza successfully became a true lady, Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering’s eyes followed Eliza walking down the stairs for the first time. The setting completed Eliza’s transformation. Furthermore, the fact the director spent more than two minutes filming only flowers before the actual scene starts proved the fact George Cukor is an artistic director. He used flowers to represent the flower girl Eliza. He started with pictures of close ups of white flowers, which represents Eliza’s innocence and pure characteristics; then he used pink flowers to symbolize the love between Eliza and Henry; in the end, George Cukor presented three pictures of the red flowers to symbolize the successful transformation of Eliza.
I had always been a huge fan of Audrey Hepburn because of her fresh look and effortless style of acting. Even though it is my first time watching the movie “My Fair Lady”, I have heard many good things about it before. Eliza Doolittle is a character that many girls could relate to including me. She is strong and positive; even when she is depressed, she can still find a way to get herself out of the negative energy. The movie is very easy and comfortable, which is the main reason I like it so much. Unlike other love stories, the main characters had to overcome unusual obstacles; in this movie, everyone is portrayed as common person that we see in our daily lives. The movie “My Fair Lady” is definitely a great success, not only in George Cukor’s career, but also in contemporary film history.
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