Matchup of the Day: Lolita vs. Ghost World
This time around we have two films – one based on a comic book, the other based on a novel – about girls involved with older men – Lolita vs. Ghost World.
In Lolita, a middle-aged college professor of French literature, Humbert Humbert, manipulates his way to into a relationship with a teenage girl. In Ghost World, a girl just out of high school, Enid, manipulates her way into a relationship with an older man, Seymour. According to this article, the director of Ghost World, Terry Zwigoff, was obsessed with the novel “Lolita”, which was why he chose to include the romance between Enid and Seymour in the film. Enid first meets Seymour after playing a practical joke on him. She finds his name in the personals section of the newspaper and sets up a fake date. But when Enid discovers that Seymour is awkwardly unpretentious and possesses a deep knowledge of classic blues, she is intrigued. She relates to his being an outsider just as she perceives herself to be.
Humbert Humbert first encounters the girl of the title while looking for a room to rent. Lolita’s mother, Charlotte, is an extremely needy woman who desperately wants to be loved, particularly since her husband died seven years previous. Humbert finds her to be unbearable, but is immediately smitten with Lolita. His obsession with Lolita is so great that Humbert marries Charlotte just to get closer to her. Charlotte, however, finds Humbert’s diary which details his contempt for her and his amorous feelings for Lolita. She swears he’ll never see Lolita again. Humbert had considered murdering Charlotte to get her out of the way, instead failing to go through with it. His fortunes improve when she gets hit by a car after reading the diary.
I have actually seen this movie. The dance number shown in Ghost World is the best part of Gumnaam. In case you were wondering.
Enid tries to help Seymour find a girlfriend. She gradually grows romantically attached to him along the way and becomes jealous when he does meet someone. In Lolita, Humbert is allowed free reign to indulge his obsession with his stepdaughter once Charlotte is dead. But Lolita plays with his affections, and proves to be just as unruly with him as she was with her mother. Humbert, too, becomes increasingly jealous, particularly when Lolita wants to hang out with boys her own age. Further exacerbating the situation, a creepy playwright, Clare Quilty, who also has designs on Lolita, is stalking them. Enid and her friend, Rebecca, stalk Seymour early in Ghost World, so there’s that comparison.
Lolita ends up in the hospital with a severe cold. Quilty, posing as her uncle, discharges Lolita unbeknownst to Humbert. He receives a letter from Lolita several years later explaining that she is now married to a man named Richard and pregnant with no money. When Humbert visits her, she tells him that she had been carrying on an affair with Quilty before and after Humber met her. After leaving the hospital, Quilty took Lolita to live at a ranch full of strange artsy types. She refused to appear in an “artistic” film they were making and Quilty threw her out. Humbert tries to convince Lolita to leave with him. She refuses, feeling obligated to Richard. Angered, he tracks Quilty down and shoots him repeatedly.
Enid experiences setbacks with Rebecca and loses her art school scholarship. Feeling vulnerable, she goes to Seymour’s apartment and professes her interest in him after heavy drinking. They end up getting intimate. Seymour, thinking that Enid wants a future with him, breaks it off with his girlfriend. Enid, however, realizes hooking up wasn’t such a good idea, as it detracted from their friendship. Seymour goes looking for her when she won’t return his calls, which leads to him suffering an injury during a convenience store skirmish. Enid pays him a visit and tells Seymour that he is her her hero. She then boards a bus and leaves town.