light of my life, fire of my loins
Used to describe the love of your life, or even
more than that. Your world would turn into
complete darkness or turn upside down without her.
It’s in the opening sentence of Lolita the novel
by Vladimir Nabokov / Lolita the movie, in which
the narrator was obsessed with his stepdaughter
whom he named Lolita.
It’s been adopted by Lana Del Rey as
lyrics in her song “Off to the races”.
She is the light of my life, fire of my
loins, I’m dead when she leaves me.
It feels like I’m watching porn. The video is grainy
and cheap looking, like an old daytime soap shot
with Vaseline over the lens.
In the corner there is a grey couch that sits
against a wall painted the desperate sand-beige
color of every strip mall in America.
This is a six-minute, twelve-second YouTube video
of Dominique Swain’s screen test for the title
role in the 1997 film adaptation of Lolita.
At the four-minute mark, director Adrian Lyne gives
a line reading of the word, “slut.” He says it over
and over again. Jeremy Irons, 49 years old at the time,
had already been cast as Humbert Humbert.
In the video, Swain is 15 years old, playing 14,
though in the novel, Lolita is 12. Seconds before
the end, she looks toward the camera, smiles, and
says in a bad, mock-English accent, “I’m a conniving little slut.”
In Swain’s screen test, her eyes gleam when she cracks
a joke at Jeremy Irons’ expense. “I’m a murderous
pervert,” she says, mimicking Irons.
She laughs and rolls her eyes, readying herself
for applause. Lyne gives it to her: a big belly
Lyne’s playboy hair, coupled with his English accent,
turn him into everyone’s uncle who knows no boundaries.
He is both flirty, and fatherly. Then, on the second take,
Irons slaps Swain across the face. He doesn’t hesitate.
It’s shocking to see. Effective. When it’s over,
Lyne goes in a for hug. With his arms around her,
he whispers praise. Swain says she’s fine.
She’s a professional after all.