Music Reviews

Lolita

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Rhino

Stanley Kubrick knew exactly what he was doing when he enlisted Nelson Riddle to score the soundtrack to 1962’s Lolita, the controversial adaptation of the even more controversial novel by Vladmir Nabakov. Sexual perversion aside for one moment, Kubrick apparently wanted to use the man who was providing the cocktail soundtrack to Cold War America for an ironic and sometimes creepy backdrop to a deconstruction of American middle-class suburbia. Of course, everything’s coming up irony these days, so it’s only fitting that Rhino’s releasing the soundtrack on CD, also to coincide with the release earlier this year of the remake featuring Jeremy Irons. Riddle’s infatuation with string arrangements, alternately dreamy and haunting, with precocious flutes and swanky horns filled many a swinger’s pad.

Riddle’s music screamed casual sexuality, which certainly is befitting the ironic and allegory-drenched tale of pedophilia. At the heart of the movie’s sexuality is Humbert Humbert’s obsession with 15-year-old Lolita, whom Kubrick used to represent the lusty childishness of a post-war generation that just couldn’t get enough of anything – that wanted it and wanted it now. That childishness can be found in tunes like the Latin-tinged “Lolita Ya-Ya,” complete with childlike vocals. (The song, like many on the soundtrack, follows a hilarious snippet of dialogue from the film starring James Mason as Humbert, and Shelley Winters as the woman Humbert marries to get closer to daughter Lolita. As a potential landlord, Winters’ character sells Humbert on all of her place’s amenities, including “cherry pies.” Sheesh.)

More than just another space-age bachelor-pad collector’s item, the Lolita soundtrack is also a great study in the use of the soundtrack to illustrate the story. See the movie – the first one, which is brilliant – and then listen to the music. Context, after all, is everything. Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025; http://www.rhino.com


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