Pretty Woman (1990) – A Modern-Day Cinderella Story of Unexpected Love

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • The Plot of "Pretty Woman"
  • The Characters of "Pretty Woman"
  • Analysis of Themes
    • Love and Transformation
    • Class and Society
    • Empowerment and Self-Discovery
  • Cinematic Elements and Success
  • Impact and Cultural Significance
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • Conclusion


In the realm of romantic comedies, "Pretty Woman" stands as a timeless classic that captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. Released in 1990, it tells a modern-day Cinderella story of unexpected love and transformation. In this article, we will delve into the plot, explore the characters, analyze the underlying themes, discuss its cinematic elements, and highlight its impact on popular culture.

The Plot of "Pretty Woman"

"Pretty Woman" revolves around the unlikely encounter between a wealthy businessman named Edward Lewis and a vivacious prostitute named Vivian Ward on the streets of Los Angeles. Edward, played by Richard Gere, hires Vivian, portrayed by Julia Roberts, for an entire week to accompany him to social events.

What starts as a purely transactional relationship begins to evolve as Edward becomes enamored by Vivian’s genuine and endearing personality. As they spend more time together, they develop a deep connection that defies societal expectations and norms.

The Characters of "Pretty Woman"

  1. Vivian Ward: Vivian is the protagonist of the story, a spirited and optimistic young woman who dreams of a better life. Julia Roberts’ portrayal of Vivian captivates the audience with her charm, innocence, and infectious smile.

  2. Edward Lewis: Edward is the wealthy businessman who hires Vivian. Initially closed off and guarded, Richard Gere’s portrayal of Edward gradually reveals a vulnerable and compassionate side as he falls in love with Vivian.

  3. Kit De Luca: Kit is Vivian’s loyal and street-smart friend who looks out for her. Laura San Giacomo brings warmth and humor to the character, providing a supportive presence in Vivian’s life.

  4. Philip Stuckey: Philip is Edward’s cold and calculating lawyer, played by Jason Alexander. He serves as the antagonist, representing the societal constraints and judgments faced by Vivian and Edward’s unconventional relationship.

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Analysis of Themes

Love and Transformation

One of the central themes in "Pretty Woman" is the power of love to transform lives. Through their unexpected connection, Vivian and Edward both undergo a profound change. Vivian’s encounter with Edward challenges her perceptions of herself, leading her to reevaluate her worth and aspire for a better future. Similarly, Edward learns to let go of his guarded nature and embraces love, discovering emotional fulfillment he never thought possible.

Class and Society

The stark contrast between the worlds of Vivian and Edward highlights the theme of class and societal divisions. Vivian, coming from a disadvantaged background, faces judgment and discrimination due to her occupation. Meanwhile, Edward, embodying privilege and wealth, learns about the superficiality of his previous lifestyle and the importance of genuine human connections.

Empowerment and Self-Discovery

Vivian’s journey in "Pretty Woman" is a tale of empowerment and self-discovery. Throughout the film, she asserts her independence, breaks free from societal expectations, and ultimately finds her voice. Vivian’s transformation serves as an inspiration, reminding audiences of the strength within themselves to challenge the limitations imposed by society.

Cinematic Elements and Success

"Pretty Woman" succeeds not only due to its compelling narrative but also through its skilled cinematic execution. The film’s cinematography beautifully captures the vibrant streets of Los Angeles, creating a visually appealing backdrop for the story. The chemistry between Julia Roberts and Richard Gere is palpable, enhancing the authenticity of their characters’ connection.

Director Garry Marshall’s deft direction balances romance, humor, and drama, creating a memorable viewing experience. The film’s screenplay, written by J.F. Lawton, masterfully combines elements of fairy tales with modern realities, resulting in a captivating storyline that resonates with audiences of all ages.

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Impact and Cultural Significance

Since its release, "Pretty Woman" has left an indelible mark on popular culture. Its iconic scenes, such as Vivian’s transformation and the unforgettable opera scene, have become synonymous with the film. Moreover, the film’s exploration of love, empowerment, and social class continues to resonate with audiences, making it a beloved part of cinematic history.

The success of "Pretty Woman" also catapulted Julia Roberts to superstardom and solidified Richard Gere’s status as a leading man. The film’s box office triumph and critical acclaim cemented its position as a cultural touchstone in the romantic comedy genre.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Q: Is "Pretty Woman" based on a true story?

    • A: No, "Pretty Woman" is a fictional story created for the film.
  2. Q: What was the inspiration behind "Pretty Woman"?

    • A: The screenplay was initially titled "3000" and was based on a darker story. However, it evolved into a romantic comedy inspired by classic fairy tales, particularly the Cinderella story.
  3. Q: Was the ending of "Pretty Woman" always the same?

    • A: No, the original script had a darker ending where Vivian is abandoned by Edward. However, it was ultimately changed to the more romantic and uplifting ending we see in the final film.
  4. Q: Did "Pretty Woman" receive any awards?

    • A: Yes, the film received various nominations and Julia Roberts won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her role as Vivian.
  5. Q: Are there any sequels to "Pretty Woman"?

    • A: No, there are no official sequels to "Pretty Woman," although there have been talks about a potential Broadway musical adaptation.
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"Pretty Woman" continues to captivate audiences with its modern-day Cinderella story of unexpected love and transformation. Through its compelling plot, well-developed characters, and exploration of themes such as love, class, and empowerment, the film has secured a place in cinema history. Its lasting impact on popular culture and enduring relevance make it a true classic that will continue to charm audiences for generations to come.