Film Review of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: A Bickering Older Couple, a Cowed Younger Couple, and a Roller-coaster Night of Dancing, Drinking and Fighting
It can be so uncomfortable and so unsure being the newest faculty member at a very small college. An opportunity to socialize with the college president’s daughter and her husband therefore can seem quite the ice-breaker. But then again — as the film “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” so dramatically shows — dreamy opportunities and first impressions may be so wrong!
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in a pub in Shepperton, south east England, 1963, photographed by photojournalist Eve Cohen Arnold (April 21, 1912-January 4, 2012): three years later both actors submerged their famous good looks to lose themselves in the unattractive, frumpy roles of a bereft, pain-filled older couple (pds209, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a dramatic film which appeals to viewers in search of the emotional resolutions and interpersonal relationships which are hindered or strengthened by clashing personalities.
Conflict-resolving communication is an ideal. It looks particularly good in contrast to the hapless consequences of repressed feelings and thoughts. But dragging emotional depths and verbalizing innermost disappointments and fears may need to be done not just once but often.
Regularly cathartic conversations in fact may be an initiation rite for a college’s unsuspecting new faculty in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, written and produced by Ernest Lehman; and directed by Mike Nicholas. The cinematographer was Haskell Wexler. The editing and music were the respective responsibilities of Sam O’Sheen and Alex North.
The movie is based upon a play of the same name by Edward Albee (born 1928). It runs for 130+ minutes. Its distributor was Warner Bros. The film first was released on June 22, 1966.
The film begins with George and Martha (played by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor) preparing for early morning guests. The two discuss the Saturday night party attended by faculty members of a New England college. Newly-hired Biology Professor Nick and wife Honey (played by George Segal and Sandy Dennis) then show up for after-party socializing … or so they think.
The past and present of both couples are bared by angry, vulgar exchanges between George and Martha. One wonders that the marriage lasts since Martha and George agree only to disagree. But the interactions show all four to have much in common.
George has what he has professionally, because Martha is the college president’s daughter. Nick is married to a wealthy wife. Both wives may have forced marriage by claiming hysterical pregnancies.
But Honey acts meekly fearful of angering or upsetting others. In contrast, Martha appears provocatively assertive. Surprisingly but not unexpectedly like George, Honey does not seem sexually in control.
Surprisingly like Nick, Martha has a definite sexual identity. By the end, viewers nevertheless witness a submissive, vulnerable Martha. One wonders whether Martha’s blustering leaves new hires forever scrambled or at the forefront of impersonators of George and the college president’s daughter!
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is an impressively acted, strikingly written, and tightly packaged drama film. It is no surprise that this black-and-black movie stands alone in receiving nominations for all 13 Oscar categories. The film received five Academy Awards, one being Elizabeth’s (1926-2011) second win as Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Copyright: Thursday, June 14, 2012 by Derdriu
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” trailer