Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (1966) a disturbing black comedy based on Edward Albee’s play of the same name, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis.

The movie is breathtakingly intense and at the same time there is an underlying sadness to it, when you understand the context. George (Richard Burton) is a history professor and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) his wife. George teaches at the university at Martha’s father is the Dean. They are fiftyish and furiously quibbling with each other.

Martha has invited another young couple Nick (George Segal in a brilliant role) and Honey (Sandy Dennis in an award winning performance) to their house for drinks. Nick is also the biology professor in the same college.

What happens in the house after the guests come in is intense word play between Martha and George which surprises the guests. Both Martha and George quarrel openly in front of the guests, making them wonder if they have done the right thing to come there.

Most of the shooting is inside their cramped house so that makes it more suffocating. Then George and Nick go outside when Honey throws up and then they go for a drive with George driving in an inebriated state. All the while George and Martha continue their bickering.

Martha talks about their son which enrages George. That is a taboo for him which makes him angry like hell. Their sado-masochism is an escape for their deep failure which they know for a fact and can’t do anything about it. Beneath their bravado lies deep insecurity and sadness and anguish.

Elizabeth has done the role of her lifetime in this movie. She is simply breathtaking especially towards the end when she realises the secret about her son is going to be revealed, she is quite magnificient. She of course won the Best Actress award at the Oscars for this picture.

Richard Burton is of course brilliant as usual with his lines and his arrogance and his wit and ruthlessness. George Segal has acted superbly i thought but Sandy Dennis won the best supporting award at the Oscars. This is one movie which got nominated in every category of that year.

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