Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #15 (From MY FAIR LADY

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1.    Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) 


The lighting in both projects expresses a feeling of loss and desperation. Ingrid Bergmann in Gaslight as does Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady pass through light and dark as they both gradually discard their false faces. Bergmann is exhausted by her attempts to look sane when she is being convinced she is going mad. Hepburn must bear the weight of a false persona, one of elegance and class when she is a simple flower girl selling her blooms on the street. Neither is who she appears to be and the persistence to maintain their falsehoods is inevitably impossible to sustain.


So Cukor provides them with the comfort of the cool darkness, as they are both sometimes shrouded in darkness and other times in shadow. In this scene as in scenes in Gaslight both women are not seen in direct light. They both have emotional breakdowns when in shadow because perhaps Cukor knows it is easier to cast off our masks in the dark. We feel protected, cosseted from the bright light of day when we wear out masks to the fullest. The shadow hides us from the judging eyes of the world enabling us to show our real selves not feeling totally naked and vulnerable.


Also, both stories are set in the Victorian era so the mis en scene is overcrowded with the trappings of an upper class existence. Lush fabrics, countless paintings, decorative lamps, ferns, furniture of every kind, etc populate the scene promoting a feeling of being trapped, surrounded on all sides, the possessions mirroring the overbearing suffocation of the men in their lives.

2.    Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.


He provides each actor plenty of space in which to move through the transitions. The comfort of shadow but also the alienation of it.

3.    What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?


Higgins continues to ignore Eliza's needs. He is as in the dark as the darkest corner of the room regarding her fears and anxieties. He is so self centered and apparently perfect (look at his beautiful home and how perfectly and neatly he is attired) that he is dumfounded by her reaction to him. He calls her an insect and a detestable cat showing her claws when her anger causes her to strike out at him. Despite the sincerity of her admissions he fails to recognize the real Eliza. She is in shadow, yet unknown, he is in the light known too well. Cukor keeps the space between them as a way of elevating the alienation that now separates the couple once the experiment is over.

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I've noticed in the clip that there is no closeness between the characters - even Higgins tries to keep his distance when Eliza tries to fight him. When she is upset, Higgins does not seem to care or take it serious. Instead, he adjusts his clothes and stands with his hands behind his back. At one point, he even offers chocolates. Higgins is aloof.

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  1. 1.  Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) 

I’ve only seen two of George Cukor movies, The Philadelphia Story and My Fair Lady.  There were so different from one another that’s it hard to think of common themes other than the leading ladies had very prominent roles in each and both had two male characters, two play off of. 

  1. 2.  Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.
  2.  
  3. Higgins is just so oblivious to any real feelings... mostly I think until this scene and then realizes that he actually might have feelings for her.  
     
  4. 3.  What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?

This is a hard question to answer for an amateur movie watcher. It’s hard to know what Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison brought to the scene themselves as opposed to what direction George Cukor directed them to do.  The scene is so believable though.  You understand Eliza’s frustration after weeks of work, wasn’t even congratulated at all, as if it was all of Higgins doing.  And, you also understand that a real relationship was built over time, this scene exposes that.

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1. Unfortunately, I haven't seen Gaslight yet. This scene reminded me of the scene in Gigi, by Vincente Minnelli, when Gigi has to choose to either be a courtesan or lose Gaston. She's torn and emotional and she has to decide if she's going to have to act like someone she's not. Both directors use beautiful costumes and lighting. Minnelli, however, has a lovely set that complements the costumes and lighting and Gigi is front and center. Eliza and Higgins share the scene in My Fair Lady.

2. As the scene opens, Eliza is crushed when she returns home. She's in the shadows. She's won the bet for Higgins, but she doesn't think he cares. You can't help but feel Eliza's pain as Hepburn drops to her knees in anguish. Cukor supports her with beautiful lighting, costuming, and staging. Then when Higgins enters and she's furious, she's still gorgeous as she's throwing his slippers at him! The scene shifts as Higgins begins to reason with her and calm her down. Now he's the center with terrific lighting, costuming, and staging. Harrison is both charming and reassuring. At the end, they're both in the center as they each try to figure out what to do next.
 

3. I notice the teacher/student relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor's direction. He's correcting her grammar and offering her candy trying to get her to calm down like she's a child, while she's respectfully listening to his reasoning as her teacher. Cukor highlights their relationship through their sharing of the scene. 

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I can see similarities in the movie Gaslight to My Fair Lady even though Gaslight wasn't a musical. It took place in England too. Both lead female characters were being tormented and came out of the experience changed. I loved Gaslight. I also see a similar use of shadows and darkness.

Eliza felt like she was used even though she was the one who wanted to be transformed into a lady. Higgins and Pickering patted each other on the back and didn't pay any attention to Eliza and she was the one who worked so hard to make their success possible. I don't blame her for being so angry. It's obvious that Higgins still doesn't understand women. He was totally clueless.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               I like My Fair Lady. The songs are such fun to sing and the costumes are glorious but I hate the ending of this movie if you can call it an ending. It felt unfinished to me. Nothing was really resolved. He just told her to fetch his slippers...ugh! She deserves a better man than that, someone who cares about her feelings. It's obvious Eliza was in love with Higgins and he didn't realize it. I think Higgins is only in love with himself--there's no room in his heart for anyone else. That's what he said in the song, he didn't want to let a woman in his life. Eliza should have left to start a life on her own and put her new image to good use. Or she should have dated the guy stalking her, on the street where she lived, singing outside the house all night... or Higgins should have developed feelings for her and told her. Or something...I need closure and didn't get it.  I feel like the director used up all of his creative juices and just called "cut, that's a wrap!" leaving no real ending to the movie. I wonder if it ended this way in the book...

 

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In both gaslight and My fair Lady, you have a man behaving badly ( although not murderously in MFL).  And these men have upset the ladies.  He does a good job of following g the women while they tell the men off. But the use of light and shadow also enhances the anguish the women are feeling.

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I see the suggested topics, but I keep thinking we are avoiding something very significant.  Cukor and company rejected Julie Andrews from the stage production and went with Audrey for star power, even though she was not known for her singing.  Meanwhile, rejected Julie went on to play Mary Poppins, which became a children’s classic and she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. No one will deny Cukor dig a good job with a “stagey” play, but it had been seen by so many traditional people on the stage already.  

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1.    Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) 

Gaslight was another movie about a very manipulative man. In this case he tried to drive his wife insane so he could find the jewels her aunt left her. Prof. Higgins is manipulating Liza so he can win a bet. Both men want something of the women in their lives regardless of how it effects the women.

Both sets are detailed, opulent, and in shadow much of the time. I believe Cukor was making the actor’s stand out in all the excess.  

2.   Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.

When Liza finally looses her temper with Higgins the camera focuses on her as she throws the slippers.  When Higgins is  exasperated with Liza as she wonders what is to become of her, the camera focuses on him. Also Higgins took command as Liza was the weak one and it was set up with her sitting as he hovered over her.

3.    What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?

I always thought that Higgins thought he was the one in charge and he was, up until the end, when it was Liza’s turn to take command. When she did she stood up and stayed standing. She gave him back the glittering jewels so she wouldn’t be accused of stealing, and she was now the one empowered to leave. The camera caught the emotions and body twitches as each of them realized she could leave, he would miss her, she was sad and so           was he. It was all subtle but it was there.

 

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I have not seen Gaslight but I would imagine he is very skillful with lighting in both films; highlighting and shadowing the specific feelings and themes in the dialogue. Previous musicals are either bright and colorful or dark and gloomy but there is never really a transition while in the middle of a scene.

Hepburn is fantastic in this scene. Her emotions are so strong and so powerful you want to scream right along w/ her. As Higgins enters she's crying - making her seem vulnerable. Once she sees him she throws a fit and he's just as confused as ever. Cukor allows them to play off each other so easily that it just seems so natural.

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I remain in on how these characters interact with each other in this clip. Professor Higgins is so befuddled and in his own world, he can’t see beyond what is going to happen to Eliza. His “okay I’m done with you” attitude enhances the idea that Eliza is merely a toy. A prop. And nothing else. I’ve watch this movie so many times, in this scene is just so heartbreaking for me.

As for George Cukor as a director, I think he is one of the best. “The Women” happens to be one of my other favorite films... the remake didn’t even come close to the perfection of the original.

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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #15 (FROM MY FAIR LADY):

“That gaping void between us will forever be uncrossable!” “You are arrogant and bossy and I choose to be unbossable!” “You’re Impossible!”  (from Dr. Doolittle, 1967)

1. As in Gaslight, the house is a character representing class.  But here, when the lights dim, the wide shots makes Eliza seem like another decorated item in the room but misplaced and discarded like a pair of slippers.

2. When Higgins enters, she lights up in sharp contrast to the set to emphasize her anger but it also suggests that Higgins is her light.  The camera remains looking down at her over Higgins shoulder suggesting her feelings of inferiority and his assumed superiority.  

3. Now the wide shots emphasis their distance from each other and from themselves.  However she remains in the foreground facing towards us, so we empathize with her.  When she turns from him, saying, “What have you left me fit for?” (ending with a preposition), we are now firmly in the boy-loses-girl second act of the musical. This line also suggests that she was fashioned from his rib and now they are only fit for each other.  Cukor was a “woman’s director” because he often chose films with strong female protagonists which he fashioned from his rib.

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Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar withGaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) 

It's interesting to look at footage through the lens of understanding Cukor's personal circumstances. Both movies - MFL & GL - have a tortured, frustrated female emoting to a cold, assumedly uncaring male character that continually insists that the woman is incorrect and overreacting. The women are being patronized regarding their very real emotions, valid observations and compromised circumstances - that reflect, (I would imagine,) what may have been Cukor's experience navigating an homophobic society.

 

Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.

Lights, costumes, and particularly COLOR have a great impact on keeping one's eye on the source of conflict. Additionally, Hepburn uses the entire space - standing - sitting - lying down on the couch and eventually the floor - to underscore her rollercoaster of emotions, while Harrison just slinks about a bit always ****  and contained- no movements that indicate how he is possibly feeling. Just rigid and cold. Again, maybe this reflects Cukor's identity crisis - the rigidness representing a society the feels "this is just how things are and have to be" versus the reality of human connection to the situation.

 

 

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The are many similarities in a scene from Gaslight and My Fair Lady. Bergman is in the little office room with many appointments and furnishings and she breaks down just like Eliza. Boyer is always standing and moving around her and talking down to her just as Harrison is doing in My Fair Lady. Cukor always keeps the woman at the center of the frame with the man moving around them

The scene starts with Eliza in the corner and then in the dark as she is in the dark about what lies ahead for her. She moves to the center of the room and slowly disintegrates and Cukor keeps her in the center of the frame. Higgins appears at the door as she throw the slippers. Each of his moves trigger a response that allows Eliza to change emotions.

Higgins is always standing and moving around her remaining calm as she changes moods. Eliza is alternating between sitting and collapsing alway lower than Higgins showing her station.

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Some of my favorite movies are Cukor movies. I love Holiday 1938, Gaslight 1944, Adam’s Rib 1949, Pat and Mike 1952 and I think the reason is that his movies all seem so real, so natural. Even the scripts he chooses seem that the people in them could be real and the stories could have happened. If someone was arguing that Cukor was woman's director because he could coax great performances from actresses, they could prove that statement with my choices of his movies. The women in my favorite movies, the lead was a very strong woman. And Katherine Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman gave great performances in those movies. And the characters could have been real and all had a flaw.

The scene is very emotional as Hepburn sees that she has no future in this world the professor has brought her into. Now she can't stay and she can't go back. The point and all Hepburn's emotional words don't seem to sink in with  Harrison at all. The actors play their parts so well that you have such sympathy for Hepburn and disdain for Harrison.

I think Cukor's direction would keep the viewers focused on the actors and the roles of Eliza and Higgins. He liked to keep the emphasis on character, dialogue, and emotion, not the background, lighting, or special angles.

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My Fair Lady along with George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and another, quite different story, Gaslight are about seeing and not seeing. They remind us that appearances can be deceiving.

In My Fair Lady, Professor Higgins is in the business of identifying people’s place in society from the way they speak. The ruling class is separated from the working class by their speech and by their appearance. Clothing, and My Fair Lady certainly has a lot to say about clothing, is another barrier between the classes. Eliza’s soot-stained face too, becomes a mask which hides her true self. In one of many memorable scenes, the soot will be scrubbed off.
Eliza presents herself to Professor Higgins so that she can learn how to speak properly, hoping to at least rise to the level of a shop clerk in a flower shop. It should be noted that the spark that sets the story in motion.  She may not be aware of what she’s letting herself in for from the team of Higgins and Pickering, but it's her choices that drive the story.

This scene in MFL begins with Eliza in the shadows. Her emotions are revealed as she emerges from the shadows. She collapses on the armchair, partially obscuring her face. As she lifts her face we see more of her emotions, but she soon places her clenched fist in front of her face. The entire film follows a pattern of revelation and concealment. As a director, George Cukor is teaching us how to see.

Higgins enters and she lashes out at him, throwing the slippers he came looking for. After a brief struggle, Eliza collapses on the couch. Higgins speaks to her, or rather at her, from behind. We’ve another scene to go before these two can see each other as they really are.
Private and public faces
 

In this scene from Gaslight Paula, played by Ingrid Bergman, literally sees the light. Her eyes turn up to the ceiling at one point, glimpsing a skylight. At all times, Boyer and Bergman are face to face, fully lit. Anton entreats her to look into his eyes. This time, though, she isn’t taken in.  She play-acts the kind of mind game she’s been subjected to and finally rejects him.
It sure takes long enough, but Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins will reveal their true loving selves to one another. In Bernard Shaw’s Edwardian England the mask of social convention doesn’t slip very often, but it slips often enough.  In Gaslight Paula looks into Anton’s eyes and sees irredeemable evil, it’s a good thing she has Joseph Cotten to turn to.

Oh, and I still think Eliza should have married Freddy.

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This scene has always kept me analyzing the characters. I have always felt sorry for Eliza. She seems so young so vulnerable in this scene. Asking over and over again what will happen now. I feel that Professor Higgins is even more removed from  her feelings.He cannot understand why she is carrying on so.. I believe Cukor wants us to really think about all that has happrned to each character. To ask someone to change their whole personality for someone else is demanding and not always fair. The characters are more honest with each other but they still have a long way to understand each other. The ending keeps you thinking long after the movie has ended that relationships need to be honest and grow. I am not sure that will happen with the professor. It is a true representation of the role of a woman in that Victorian era. 

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  1. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) 
    The techniques are similar to perhaps film noir or Hitchcock where much can happen in the dark or shadows - we can see a great deal about the characters.
     
  2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.
    Well, we see Eliza realize that she has won the bet for Higgins.  Now, she assumes, he's done with her and what is she good for now?  Higgins has not thought this through and acts that there is no big deal.  She cannot go back to selling flowers and cannot stay at his house.  She would have to marry because she actually has no money and isn't a worthy prospect because of that fact.  He has rendered her useless in that era.
    Cukor puts them together in the scene and we can see Higgins's reaction which is not one of realization and that is infuriatingly British.  We see Cukor's framework in these shots and the lighting; Eliza turning off the light is a nice touch.
     
  3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?
    Like the statements above, he seems to keep them in the same frame which is perhaps a foreshadowing of what's to come?  He keeps them together despite their arguing.  We know they end up together.

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You’ve all made such great points about the power play in Gaslight and MFL: how Cukor helps us identify with the woman, showing how a man manipulates her emotions. The difference, I think, is that Higgins believes in his own illusion. He believes he is the benevolent teacher, out to better humankind through the gift of speech. In fact, he has the whole household brainwashed. When his servants sing “Poor Professor Higgins,” it is played for comedy (in stark contrast to Gaslight). But then we get the lead-in to this darker scene, when even the gentlemanly Pickering congratulates H. instead of Eliza after the ball.

But Higgins is always having to prove to himself that this self-portrait is true. He’s always making these ridiculously-false assertions about himself (“I’m an ordinary man”), and when anyone calls out his hypocrisy, as Eliza does, he blusters. When he objectifies her and treats her as if she isn’t even there (“Oh, so the creature’s nervous, after all?”), he’s trying to assert control. And superficially, he’s still in control of the space (Eliza’s speech is truly powerful, but she’s not in control of her anger or her self as she gestures and moves about the room), but there’s a lack of control in his voice (the pitch rises) and in the way he taps his fingers against the furniture. He seems momentarily nervous too. 

That Higgins believes in his own illusion (as benevolent teacher) comes through in an earlier speech to Eliza: when they’re working and exhausted and frustrated at 3 a.m., just before she “correctly” recites “The rain in Spain.” In that scene, he finally takes the time to acknowledge her experience: “I know your head aches; I know you're tired; I know your nerves are as raw as meat in a butcher's window. But think what you're trying to accomplish. Think what you're dealing with. The majesty and grandeur of the English language, it's the greatest possession we have. . . . And that's what you've set yourself out to conquer Eliza. And conquer it you will.” Despite the power dynamic here (all-knowing teacher, willing student), he’s finally talking to her as a human being. And she responds. Instead of simply mimicking a set of physical commands, she stops, considers what she’s doing, and slowly, deliberately, speaks in a new voice.

In the clip for today, Eliza pushes back, using both her reason and her passion. But Higgins reverts to his self-centered performance (the all-knowing teacher). He’s not yet ready to change his character or behavior to accommodate the new Eliza, but at least he (and we) start to see her.

For Higgins’ self-portrait to work, he needs an audience: the crowd at Covent Garden; Pickering, who is both his partner-in-crime and his student; and his ultimate student/creation, Eliza. Whether or not Higgins and Eliza can achieve a real, human relationship depends on whether he can break out of the role he has set for himself--just as, in this scene, she breaks out of the role he set for her.

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4 hours ago, JDC_NYC said:

Cukor is a tremendously talented director - which still makes me wonder how he could direct that schlock of a film "A Star is Born" with Garland.  He either could not figure out how to cut it down to less than 6 hours other than putting in those voiceover overlays on still frames and then it still went on forever.  

My understanding is that those voice-over scenes are attempts at reconstructing the original version. It had been cut, and they lost the visual but had the audio track, so they laid in the still photos they had from elsewhere. (I know I heard that on TCM at some point.)  Whenever I watch A Star is Born, I keep trying to "unsee" those additions. I agree a little bit of cutting might have been helpful to that one. 

Sorry about the aside, we're supposed to be talking about My Fair Lady. I appreciated this scene, in which Audrey goes through such emotional transitions, but nothing can beat Ingrid Bergman when it comes to the fluidity of facial expressions. I think Cukor was trying to do something similar here. I just find this scene so frustrating in that Eliza can't seem to find any way of expressing the feelings that we can all see that she has. I think this scene is also great at underscoring that she is an Object, and Henry Higgins is the alpha male who controls everything, starting with verbally.

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  1. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) Both "Gaslight" and "My Fair Lady" are manipulations by men (Boyer & Harrison) of trusting souls (Bergman and Hepburn) who at the end of the movies wake up to the fact that their love isn't returned (although Harrison later discovers he'll miss her).  Both Boyer and Harrison's characters are masterful, in control and always have an explanation for everything.
     
  2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.  Hepburn emotes like an accordion: inwardly breaking down one moment, outwardly lashing out the next.  She really seizes the scene.  Harrison can do little (DOOLITTLE) but stand there in his reasonable saneness. 
     
  3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?  There's very little touching but a lot of throwing themselves about.  Harrison is out of touch with feeling altogether and doesn't want his inner world disturbed.  Eliza never really had any plans except to work in a flower shop and now finds herself in love and unwanted and at the end of the road.

 

When Harrison is sitting at the end and the audience can see a shadow moving on the floor to the right, it's disturbing that the very next thing is Eliza moving into the doorway.  It would seem that she already had since we were anticipating her turning off the record.  (obviously we've seen it before).  I thought, "nice to show a shadow" but then I was disappointed when it didn't seem to match up with her movement.

 

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1. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) 

Even though both films have very different themes, they both have quite a few similarities that might be worth exploring. For example, both are set in turn-of-the-century London during the height of class distinction, both of the main female characters are being manipulated and verbally abused by overly controlling men who can't see the consequences of their actions, and both suffer metal and emotional stress as an end result. Considering this and the themes of both films, I believe Cukor depicts them quite beautifully from a technical aspect in terms of lighting, setting, and character development. As I stated before, even though both films are in completely different genres, what Cukor was able to achieve in both of these aspects as well as being able to pull top-notch performances from Ingrid Bergman and Audrey Hepburn really show his skills and mastery as a director.

 

2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.

There are quite a few transition moments throughout the course of this. The first, being when Eliza first breakdown as soon as she's alone in Higgins' study after both him and Colonel Pickering have retired to bed for the evening. The second, when Higgins' returns to the study to look for his slippers and Eliza chucks them at his head. Third, when she tries to physically attack Higgins and throws her onto the couch. And lastly, when Eliza express her feelings about the entire situation and what's going to happen to her in the after math. As we can see in the clip, and the layout of the key points listed, we watch how both actors portray the characters with both a sense of subjection and pathos. In the scene, we can clearly see that both characters are not only grappling to conceal their inner struggles due to the nature of the situation, but also their true feelings toward each other. Cukor best supports and exemplifies this with both lighting as well as long takes and slow transitional shots to really highlight and emphasize the emotions that characters are expressing in the scene itself.

 

3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?

As I mentioned before, there is a sense of pathos in both characters that Cukor seems to bring out quite a bit through out the course of the scene. Even though both characters are quite angry and hurt over the prospects of the situation itself, they seem to make a connection that's both attractive and appalling at the same time. For instance, Eliza is angry at the fact that now that the experiment is over, she's found herself in quite a predicament. She can't return to her life in the gutter because she's had a taste of the finer life and transitioning back to the life she had before would be extremely difficult for her. But, at the same time, she can't manage the transition into becoming a lady because the only options that are available to her is either marriage or prostitution. This is what Higgins can't understand because he's never had to face those types of life-altering decisions due to his class and station. In his mind, Eliza can go out and do anything now because he's given her the tools to do so. He's simply hurt over the fact that Eliza's lashing out at him because he believes her to be ungrateful for everything he's done for her. It's in this sense, where Cukor's direction gets interesting because in the character's moments of volatility, he highlights a sense of closeness in their interactions that give perception of intimacy even though they're mainly separated through out the course of the scene. You can see this all throughout the scene itself. Right at the moments where they become most turbulent, they reveal more of their true feelings both to themselves and to each other. It's almost as if to Cukor is trying to indicate that they only hate each other due to the nature of the situation as well as their class distinction, but could possible overlook all of that for a better alternative. But, it's the possibility of any of kind alternative that's frightening and because of that, they can never truly connect with each other. 

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Eliza is definitely in love with Higgins but he has no idea of his feelings for her. He has no clue why she actually breaks down and goes to pieces. He is losing his control of her. 

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  1. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) 

The theme of changing social station/power plays out in this scene.  The Newly formed Lady Eliza should be the tallest point in the frame, but she's at the bottom of the camera on the floor.  As her social standing rises, so does Eliza, into the top portion of the frame.

  1. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.
     
  2. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?

I like to see My Fair Lady as the rise of Eliza, from her circumstances and from under the thumb of Higgins.  She begins the scene on the floor weeping.  Once Higgins stumbles into the parlor, their fight brings Eliza to her feet.  During their argument, Eliza stands taller than Higgins in the frames and back down again, to finally stand tall as she walks out.  Ultimately, Eliza gains the power in the frame at the end of their musical battle.  By the time Eliza returns at the end of the movie, we find her standing elegantly tall (maintaining all the power) with Higgins slumped smaller in the desk chair.

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1. Similarity between "Gaslight" & "My Fair Lady" is that in both movies you have the male leads dominate their female counterparts. Also both movies are set in turn of the century London (19th to 20th century).

2. I think the transition happens when Eliza, who is the center of attention at the ball, goes back to Higgins' home where she retreats from being the center of attention to fading into the background. Lighting is on her because she shows her emotion as being sad & angry that Higgins, whom she has feelings for, is as cold & distant as he's always been with her. He sees his victory in winning a bet & that's the end of it all. She wants to know what's to become of her.

3. Again, Cukor connects Eliza filled with emotion & Higgins, having won the bet & is as cold & distant & wanting to move on, showing relatively no concern for Eliza. She's angered, throwing his slippers at him, trying to claw at him & he continues to be cold. She realizes he sees her as a thing & feels that he cares for nothing but his bet. What Higgins will eventually realize is that he needs her as she needs him but her pride has her walk out on him.

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George Cukor's sympathy for female characters and actresses really comes across in this scene from My Fair Lady making it more complex than it originally appears. When I first saw the film, I was so swept away by Audrey Hepburn's beauty, I didn't see the burden and unhappiness it caused her to be treated as an object by a misogynistic alpha male, Professor Higgins. She isn't so much a successful makeover recipient as a plaything in the hands of an emotionally immature intellectual who doesn't initially see the value of true feelings over science.

1) Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course).

The theme of male domination and psychological manipulation are present in both films. One way George Cukor uses his skills to create this tense interchange is by altering the environment to make the female character feel imprisoned by the male character. In Gaslight he uses the lavish house the married couple lives in with the fluctuating light providing the discordance and in My Fair Lady, he uses the overstuffed ambiance of Professor Higgins' home as an intimidating presence. What should be a soothing environment, in each film, is altered by the arrangement of the rooms and their decorations.

2) Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.

 When Eliza Doolittle comes into the room, following the party, instead of being happy that she was a success as a grand lady, she collapses with utter sadness and cries on her knees unabashedly. Cukor gives her the opportunity to walk in alone, process the information she's just become aware of and that makes her so distraught, then unleash her sorrow without restraint. Professor Higgins, instead of being concerned, asks a mundane question about his slippers, which then allows Doolittle to express her real feelings of anger over his cluelessness. Cukor then gives him the opportunity to display his bewilderment over her emotions by having him stand the whole time, offer her a chocolate to appease her, and wrap up the exchange with intellectual coldness. A contrast, in Doolittle's dramatic display compared to the stoicism of Higgins, explains what has been going on between the characters since the beginning of the film creating an interesting paradox.

3) What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor's direction?

They seem to have a parent-child relationship that is strengthened by the physical posturing of each character. Higgins seems to consistently be standing over Eliza, in a dominant position, and she seems relegated to a subordinate position underneath him. He is also always instructing her, and rarely cares about her as a person, outside of his experiment which is apparent in their language and educational differences.

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