The Pygmalion Myth

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The play of Pygmalion, written by George Bernard Shaw is an appropriation of the famous story of Pygmalion in Ovid's Metamorphoses. The main character of the tale, as the title suggests, is Pygmalion.

Pygmalion, repulsed by the apparently loose and reprehensible lives of the women of his era, decides to live unaccompanied and unmarried. Using his exceptional skills as an artisan and sculptor, he fashions a statue made from ivory. His work is regarded as being more beautiful than any living woman.

The more Pygmalion looks at her, the more deeply he falls in love with her. Eventually, Pygmalion begins to wish that his beloved statue, were more than just an immobile figure. Pygmalion then goes to the temple of the goddess Venus and prays that she gives him a lover like his statue. Venus is touched by his love and brings the statue, now dubbed Galatea, to life.
The Pygmalion myth is fine when studied through the lens of centuries and the buffer of translations and editions, yet it is interesting to note what happens when one tries to translate such an allegory into 20th century Victorian England.

That is just what George Bernard Shaw does in his version of the Pygmalion myth. Several film versions have been made of the play, and it has even been adapted into a musical, in the form of "My Fair Lady".

My Fair Lady, the musical, was directed by George Cukor in 1964. It is the story of a misanthropic and conceited phonetics professor named Professor Higgins, who makes a wager with a colleague, that he can take an ordinary flower girl and make her presentable in high society.

The musical shows that the Pygmalion obsession was present in the 1960's, and certainly, this obsession has continued to prevail throughout the years. In more recent times, there have been several Hollywood films made appropriating, and perhaps taking on board and disguising, the Pygmalion myth.

The film "Memoirs of a Geisha" directed by Rob Marshall...
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