My Fair Lady (1964): Bye Freedom

by Devina

Have you seen ‘Pretty Woman‘? Well, ready to go back in time?

Let’s go to My Fair Lady, shall we? It’s so accessible that the whole movie is available streaming on YouTube. I kid you not. That was actually how I watched the movie again: on YouTube.

I like the fact that neither one of my parents was born yet when this movie came out, it’s just how damn old it is.

Okay, so let’s talk about the story:

Higgins, a phonetic expert, makes a project on making a perfect lady. By perfect lady, he means a woman who has perfect English and speaks like a royalty. So he goes with an impossible task, turning a poor florist who never had proper English education into his definition of a lady.

This florist, Eliza, lives with Higgins and learns how to act and speak like a proper lady. And Higgins will win a bet with his friend if Eliza can successfully fool the upper class men into thinking that she is indeed a royal born.

Of course, over time and  a lot of training, Eliza transforms into the perfect lady. And Higgins and Eliza start developing feelings for each other.

Then what happens next? Will Eliza stay? Or will she leave Higgins after she’s learned her lessons and become an independent, smart woman?

I tell you the ending, it is disappointing. This movie is based on a play by Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion, and I loved that play. I remember reading it several times in high school, because it’s just so good.

However, I believe that it is a trend that a lot of movies follow. I must have mentioned it in one of my posts that a lot of movie plot lines revolve around a girl, or a boy, transforming into a better or more beautiful girl and fall in love with the man who triggers that transformation.

Be it Bridget Jones, Confession of a Shopaholic, Made of Honor, Mean Girls, and many more. There is something beautiful in the transformation, I enjoy it too, but what about independence and going their own ways?

One of the recent movies I like is Me Before You. I mean, yes, the guy dies in the end (sorry for the spoiler), and it makes it easier for the girl to get her freedom. But Louisa Clarke, the protagonist, transforms into a stronger, smarter woman and she’s got her independence after he’s gone.

Unfortunately, that is how Pygmalion ended. Shaw’s work ended with Eliza going after her independence and being on her own. Definitely not going back to Higgins.

Which, in My Fair Lady, we were denied. In the movie, Eliza goes back to Higgins even after knowing that well, she can definitely go on her own and will be fine with her now respected status.

Why?

Well, I suppose it’s because people love happy endings. They have fallen in love with the idea that this couple should end up together, despite the fact that Higgins means no freedom for Eliza. The moment he takes her in, trains her, gambles with her, he means game. It’s not liberty. Not independence.

We are denied the ending of a woman going for her own life because audience prefers romantic ending in which she ends up with the guy who shares the most screen time with.

Satisfying much?

My Fair Lady gets a 5.5/10 from me. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, and I love Audrey Hepburn. But I expected a lot more from this movie. Perhaps you don’t, and if that’s the case, please watch the movie. The songs are really long though, it gets boring after awhile.

But if you are like me, then go ahead and buy the play: Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw.

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