on June 8, 2004
I saw this movie with my parents and let me tell you...this movie really grabbed me into being part of the story, part of the movie! Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton play exceptionally well! I couldn't help but drop my jaw on their powerful performances between eachother. They made me want to further
become a great actor. This a great movie for anyone who wants to be a
successful actor, director, or anything else that goes with movies. Teenagers (like myself) should see this kind of movie that really makes you think about life and just overall observe the movie and be touched. Nowadays, as other reviews here have said which I totally agree is that many people just watch non-thinkable trash movies. This is a masterpeice which everyone should love! When the movie will be over, it will literally take days to talk about the ending...because it is THAT good!!
on April 26, 2001
My initial response to this film was total shock. I was amazed at the method of communication between the two. They are two miserable individuals who have become comfortable in a total failure of a marriage. The hate each other but are afraid to be apart. They have created a an imaginary child as a glue to somehow keep the marriage in tact ( the child being the sole reason for them to stay together). Unfortunate for both Martha and George, she shares with Honey, their young guest, the most sacred and fantical part of their marriage - the baby. She allowed someone else into their fantasy. This was the beginning of the end of their illusions. When George "killed" the baby, he infact, killed what was holding their marriage together... or did he? I felt very sad for the both of them. They represent to me, two miserable people are afraid of life and living.
on October 10, 2011
Songeons un peu à la distribution souhaitée par Edward Albee, l'auteur de la pièce, avant que les Warner Brothers ne l'aient transformée en film. Dans le rôle de George, il a voulu voir James Mason. Dans celui de Martha, l'incomparable Bette Davis. Certes, une distribution de rêve.
Mais au lieu de cela, on a eu droit au couple Taylor-Burton, alors au sommet de leur renommée parfois scandaleuse, et un moyen sûr d'obtenir de bons résultats au box office. Parfois, ça a donné aussi de bons résultats artistiques, parfois pas. Ici, je trouve les résultats mixtes.
Burton incarne à merveille George, prof un tantinet ringard mais sournois et plein de lucidité, capable de se défendre au besoin des assauts verbaux, et parfois même physiques, de sa femme. Taylor a moins de succès à jouer Marthe, cette femme parfois caline, parfois violente, et dévouée malgré tout à un mari dont elle n'a cesse de bafouer, tant elle est déçue de sa manque d'ambition et de réussite dans le monde académique. C'est un rôle complexe qui dépasse les talents de Taylor à l'époque du film. Elle avaient presque 20 ans de moins que son personnage et avait du mal à cacher sa fabuleuse beauté physique, qui pour la première fois dans sa carrière ne lui était d'aucune utilité et consituait même un certain désavantage pour jouer ce rôle. (Cela aurait été un rôle en or pour la Davis, qui avait alors tous les atouts pour jouer Martha à la perfection.)
Dans l'ensemble, le film est très bien fait. Le réalisation de Mike Nichols (ce film marquait ses débuts au cinéma) est remarquable de tout point de vue. George Segal, et surtout Sandy Dennis, jouaient les rôles sécondaires avec une parfaite maîtrise de tous les aspects divers de leurs personnages. Le scénario, lorsqu'il ne s'écarte pas trop de la pièce d'Albee, est excellent.
Ne serait-ce que pour une Liz Taylor pas faite pour son rôle, ce film serait un succès. (Il lui a pourtant valu un Oscar. J'accepte de tenir un avis minoritaire quant à elle dans ce rôle.)
on July 7, 2004
The title of this film is derived from the classic childhood rhyme, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" and is used to illustrate the immaturity of the characters and the fright of confrontation. The addition of "Virginia Woolf" into the title is not only a play on words, but a reference to the author's suicide - basically, the question asked is: who's afraid of going insane?
Apparently everybody. "Woolf" is an emotional roller-coaster of a film. The premise is simple: Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor are husband and wife. Burton is a somewhat washed up University professor, and Taylor is the University president's daughter. They invite the new math professor and his squeaky, drunkard wife over for a few glasses, which quickly turns into a few bottles, which leads to an escalated, violent verbal assault on everything the four characters hold dear.
Egos are shattered. Relationships are ruined. Children are murdered. By the end of the film, the actors sulk away to their dark corners, exhausted and fragile. The same happens to the audience. If there ever was a "draining" film, this one is it. You feel like you just watched your parents fight for a whole evening. You physically feel tired, upset, angry, sad ... just about every emotion exercised in the film is exercised on your well-being.
"Woolf" is based on a play by Edward Albee, which takes place in the living room. Mike Nichols, in his stunning directorial debut, ventures only a few places other than the living room, knowing full-well that the powerhouse performances by Taylor and Burton especially (as well as the most convincing drunk ever played by Sandy Dennis) will keep the audience captivated. All dialogue in this film, save for two or three lines, are directly taken from the play. Albee said the added lines were "all garbage" - but you won't notice.
This is arguably Nichols best film, and yes, I am including "The Graduate." The cinematography (glorious black & white by Haskell Wexler, who provides commentary on the DVD), the performances, the violence, the suspense, the mind-bender at the end ... everything about this film is absolutely perfect.
Note that this isn't just a marriage disaster film, and there's a great deal of intelligent humor involved. This film also broke censorship standards, with the passionate involvement of the then-married Taylor and Burton, and featured the very first "goddamn" every uttered. Without "Woolf," the perfect TV sitcom family would still exist today. Now deviant relationships in shaky households has become the norm for modern films.
Burton was shafted again by the Academy for this film, but Taylor won a much-deserved statuette, in what is called her best performance.
Check it out. You will not forget it.
on June 23, 2004
I have to make a hazardous statement and I really hope you to think carefully about the fact that somehow, Mike Nichols and Artur Penn were two american film makers powerful influenced by European directors.
If you agree with this , I would say that Mike Nichols has had a clear influence in his first stage of his brilliant career of Ingmar Bergman. Think for instance in three excellent future films of Nichols (Four easy pieces , Carnal knowledge and Black widow)
This long introduction is necessary for understand the weird presence of a dark and even bitter film like Who's afraid...
The film undoubtly has deep roots related with two important films of the swedish director like The silence and The hour of the wolf.
This comment doesn't deserve a bit about the great level of this magnificent picture.
First at all, watch for the resource economy . The film runs at night hours and with two locations .
Two very different couples, one of them extremely young almost teenagers , and in the other side a midle aged marriage. He's a patetic man , extremely weak character (Richard Burton) and she is the unsatisfied woman , and domains the relationship in every little detail.
The meeting with this young couple will allow to Elizabeth Taylor exhibit her monumental skills for acting and give a tour de force performance , that became in her well deserved Second Academy Award.
The script is extraordinary. The dialogues are pregnant of crude realism , the horror, the multiple facets of a woman who has kept in silence so many dissapointments , the countless consequences as result of a poor comunication , the anguish of her about knowing and being the axis of the relationship.
And this is the ocassion for her to eject her most hidden thoughts ; she exploits like a earthquake , literally without a drop of prudence with all the violence that you can imagine and even more , the past phantoms emerge from the deepest dark shadows of her soul .
The hopeless, the loneliness , the sense of going nowhere and however not be able to separate instead the inferno in which she lives.
All this micro universe exploits before us and you feel its impact and the tragedy.
That film is a challenge for any director in any age, but Nichols is a master who besides had the presence of these two giants actors as Taylor and Burton. The house and the garden are the silent background in which this disgraced marriage reveals its intimacies before the young marriage.
You'll be disturbed but plenty of admiration by this splendid work .
A timeless masterpiece .
(With this film Nichols became the first director to reach the one million dollars by this picture.)
Excellent transfer to DVD.
on May 21, 2004
There are only a few movies one get to see where a 10 out of 10 is really warranted after you've seen the film several times. It's easy to jump to conclusions shouting "This is the best I've ever seen" just after seeing one particular film. This one, however, is my fave movie, and I've seen a lot of both contemporary and old movies. Countless viewings after my initial, I still stand tall and proclaim this to be the best drama ever made.
Martha's and George's relationship is that of a long married couple who have grown weary of each other. Yet they cannot leave each other, it's the only life they know. It's the only reality they've set for themselves and they dare not get out. The fights and arguments are, at the end of the day, worth the trouble of keeping your identity, your everyday life, your grasp of reality.
The cast, all four of them, are meticulous in their performances. They complete each others presence, nurture the rivalry, fill the gaps and most importantly-delivers to the maximum of their potential.
Watching this is more like seeing it performed on stage than in a theatre or on your TV in your home. Early on, you get the feeling all is not well between George & Martha, and as the guests arrive, the story is just about
to begin. The presence of the characters adds to the overall authenticicty of the story and the parts they play. It's a clichee, but I know many plays of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" has been set up: none can match the original.
If Citizen Kane is regarded as the best story ever told on the screen, this has to run very, very close.
In a heart-beat, I will give this 10 out of 10. That is saying A LOT, because I am a ferociously discriminating b***ard when it comes to movies!
on May 5, 2004
I've only got a few things to say about this movie: BEAUTIFULLY ACTED, AMAZINGLY CRAFTED & DON'T EXPECT TO BE HAPPY AFTER SEEING IT!!!
This movie is amazing in every sense. The script is fabulous and the actors couldn't have done anything better with this movie. Liz Taylor was absolutely "the limit" with this role - her best one ever. Richard Burton was marvelous, too - he played the downtrodden husband better than anyone could hope for.
The basic guts of this movie are that Liz and Richard invite a young couple over to have dinner and drinks but PLAY WITH THEIR MINDS throughout the entire show. You have to watch the movie to understand the level of this ugly game that they are imposing on their guests. To put it plainly, this movie is a mind f***.
Beware ye, all extremely sensitive viewers, you may watch this movie and be depressed for a few days straight! That's not a joke - it has a tremendous effect on all who watch it.
This movie should be seen just for the fabulous performances of the actors. See it and be depressed, weep, WHATEVER!!!
on April 16, 2004
This film is so mentally clausterphobic and emotionally intense that it's almost painful to watch, but simultaneously I couldn't pull myself from the screen. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton both deliver incredible performances as George and Martha, married university intellectuals whose mutual hatred for one another and love for hard liquor spark some of the most degrading and sharply caustic dialogue I've ever seen on screen. But that's not where it ends: enter George Segal and Sandy Dennis as Nick and Honey, a young professor and his wife who come to George and Martha's for drinks after a faculty party. And there the turbulent psychological torture begins.
It's not enough for George and Martha to ridicule and torture each other with their abrasive dialogue; they drag the young, naïve-looking couple into it, resulting in a powerful climax. The entire film takes place over a couple of hours on that one night, so concentrated that it's hard to absorb all that is said or implied between the characters. As the night progresses, the words and actions between the characters become more and more vulgar and degrading; at times I couldn't believe I was seeing and hearing this, especially since it was filmed in 1966. It's a powerful piece of cinema, the dialogue is sharp and biting, the camera angles are superb, and the actors are phenomenal. The film is disturbing beyond words, but incredibly powerful. It even manipulates the viewer's mind; you're being dragged into the psychological torture too, whether you want to or not.
on January 19, 2004
'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' is that rare thing; a movie adaptation of a stage play where we know, ever without having to be told, that it originated on the stage. It is a completely character-driven piece, full of intense dialogue, isolation & repression, and a sense of desolation and sadness that not even the most accomplished contemporary movies can match.
George and Martha (Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor) are having newly-employed University colleague Nick (George Segal) and his wife Honey (Sandy Dennis) back for late-night drinks, after a faculty party. While there, the hapless young couple stumble upon the web of lies and psychological abuse that passes for a marriage between George and Martha, and through a process of drinking, seduction and cruelty, leave with their own young marriage in tatters.
It is simply not possible to make tangible exactly how absorbing Taylor and Burton are in this picture. Certainly Burton's finest hour, he plays the part of the henpecked, abused George with brilliant depth and pathos, and ranges from abusee to abuser with such believable energy and commitment that we dare not look away. The same can be said of Taylor; this film is her absolute finest hour, and in the character of the ugly, foulmouthed Martha she takes the viewer by the throat and keeps us close to her for the whole film. Hers is a character on a par with Bette Davis in Baby Jane, a monstrous bundle of complex neuroses that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled, but far more human and believable than Jane, Martha creates fear because she could so easily be real.
Sanders and Dennis are also excellent as the unlucky young couple forced to re-evaluate their own marriage. Although Dennis won an Oscar for her portrayal as Honey, Sanders gives a hugely noteworhty performance as Nick, the ayrean hero subverted by the sickness of George and Martha's situation.
In such a piece, direction is never required to be more than competent, and while the typcial Hollywood decision to have three different locations for the movie will cause some chagrin to fans of the stage play, the rest of the direction is done in the true noir-style. Camerawork is unobtrusive and lighting is used sparingly, to create an atmosphere as emotionally detached as it is devastating.
'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' is not a happy movie. It is the antithesis of the feel-good flick, to the point where you may feel some initial dislike for it. However it affects you, and it will, you cannot help but feel awestruck by the magnificence of the performances or the amount of emotion generated by the leads. A true example of the power of fine acting, 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' is an absolute must-have addition to anyone's collection.
on January 17, 2004
If one were an actress, Martha would be the meatiest, bitchiest, sexiest, foulest, richest, tastiest, most appalling role she could ever play.
And Elizabeth Taylor plays her to perfection.
This is the movie about a middle aged couple (Liz and Richard Burtain) who love to play strange games. They thrive on it. They delight in it. Their marriage appears to be based on it.
But one night when they have a young couple (George Segal and Sandy Dennis) over for a few cocktails, their little Phychological games get a little dangerous, outrageous, sexually kinky.
I found myself gasping at times, because I could not belive what was unfolding before my eyes...Martha and George find the weakness in people and then begin tearing them apart (Little by Little) until nothing is left. Words can be like razors and cut, cut, cut. And they do this exceptionally well.
The venom rushes out of their pink mouths as if they are creating a web and then there is no stopping them ....Even sleeping with their sweet, young guests is not out of the question.
Martha and Goerge are dysfunction at the highest level, but the writing and acting is so excellent that the audience will feel for them, want to see them redeem themselves, and hope that their marriage will work.
Stunning performances by Burtain,Taylor, Dennis, and Segal...But Taylor shines beyond words.