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An old movie that could interest English language learners [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2017-2-12 09:49:15 |Display all floors
This post was edited by Gayle at 2017-2-12 10:00

In 1964, a movie came out called "My Fair Lady."  It was a musical, based on a long-running musical stage play, which in turn was based on a play by George Bernard Shaw called "Pygmalion."

The original intent of the writer of "Pygmalion" was to satirize British attitudes about social class and especially the connection between social class and accent.  Britain is a very class-conscious society and class differences are marked by different accents, with some accents considered superior and high-prestige and some accents associated with the lower class and considered inferior. In the story, a professor (with the most perfect high-prestige accent) makes a bet with his friend that he can take a woman of the lowest class in London and teach her to speak like an upper-class person so well that she would fool other upper-class people.  He chooses a poor flower seller for this experiment.

Being a movie, it of course ends up as a romance.  But in the meantime, most of the plot centers on the professor's efforts to teach the flower seller the "proper" pronunciation of words.  It becomes an interesting comparison of two different accents of English.  Both of these accents are British, of course.  But the flower seller's accent has a slight resemblance to Australian accent, since Australia was colonized by English people of the lower classes. (Unfortunately, her "British" accents are fake, because the lead actress was actually American.)

This movie also has delightful music and won the Best Picture Oscar for its year.

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Post time 2017-3-23 16:08:36 |Display all floors
This post was edited by iwater at 2017-3-23 17:33

Thank you for your sharing.

Come to think of it, but I'm not sure if I ever watched. The leading actress was Audrey Hepburn, if my memory serves me right. Her performance and elegance are/were impressive to Chinese audience too.

But the storyline /romance is not much my cup of tea now. I enjoy House of Cards, which is popular here.

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Post time 2017-4-3 12:35:54 |Display all floors
Here's my review on My Fair Lady.

I just went to watch the Oscar-awarded film that was shot more than forty years ago.

Casting aside romance which is not my favourite theme now, I don't enjoy the  character of Prof. Higgins that he presented.

He was an arrogant, condescending egotist and misogynist as well. He hadn't a modicum of respect to the financially poor, socially humble girl-Eliza, who virtually represented her own class.

At the very beginning she was simply an object without soul in his experiment. After she left him, he did miss the young girl being his pet, but not being his love. He gloated at her misfortune with contempt in his illusory monologue. I believe if a person who was truly in love with someone would wish the best to her/him, even if they couldn't be together any more. How sick he was! And he still treated the girl like a maid whom he could kick around at will with the ending line asking her where his slippers were, that was so nauseating, though they would definitately get married in the imagination of most audience.

He opened a door to the upper-class for Eliza, where people dressed up for parties. Well, that world was too artificial for me to appreciate. When the party was over, they went home and truly showed their unseemly manner. I don't admire the life and those people at all.

Being a linguist, he knew how to polish his words and accent, but he was never a genuine gentleman in my own definition.  There is no "respect" in the dictionary of Prof. Higgins, and he never learnt and never knew what it is all his life.

I'm not convinced in reality if Eliza, who had awared of her dignity, who was crying for being equal in soul, would finally return to Prof. Higgins if he failed to do some soul-searching. Obviously the film just tried to meet the expection and taste of (Western) audience's (in 1960s). It's more about fairy tale for adult audience. Good-looking Cinderella finally got married with the prince, and they happily live together ever since. I heard about the film was adapted from a drama by George Bernard Shaw, but it was pitifully a departure from the origin more or less.

The film reminds me of another novel named Jane Eyre, which is well known in China.

Why do you confide in me like this? What are you and she to me? You think that because I'm poor and plain, I have no feelings? I promise you, if God had gifted me with wealth and beauty, I would make it as hard for you to leave me now as it is for me to leave you. But He did not. But my spirit can address yours, as if both have passed through the grave and stood before heaven equal.

The two heroines shared the certain similarity in their own characters requesting for respect and equality, which every human being is supposed to deserve in any relationship, from the one they were in romantically love with. I'm not sure if Eliza would fall in love with Higgins. I assume it was more about attraction. What did she love Higgins for?

Jane Eyre was more impressive to me. I believe that Jane found her soulmate, but not Eliza.

I don't like the flower-selling girl Hepburn impersonated. I'm not convinced that people who are from lower class would behave so grossly yelling all the time. It must have been exaggerating. I understood it was a drama, but it would be a shame to demonise people of the lower class in the film which was awarded with Osar.

I got to know some Chinese peasants. They are not well-educated, and many of them don't behave genteelly, but sensibly.



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