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on March 22, 2000
If you're looking at my film reviews, one of the things you must know is that I like movies with great stories as well as great acting and directing. Without a great story, the movie loses most of its clout. Acting and directing can only go so far. Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf happens to have all three. The play, written by Edward Albee, was a classic to begin with, and the screen adaptation is perfectly executed by an ensemble cast and a great director. The story of a husband and wife's emotional games and the innocent couple they involve in their games for one night of company is a remarkable film. I don't think you will find too many other films about the psychological dynamics of a relationship explored in such painstaking detail. The dialogue will make your head spin. Elizabeth Taylor won best actress for her role and you can see why. This is a must have for any film collector.
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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!!
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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.
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on March 26, 2000
I've never heard a bad word about this movie. After renting it the other night, I still do not understand what it means. Four people get drunk and mumble all night. Maybe this was a breakthough in cinematography in 1966, but by 2000, what's the deal? Maybe I don't understand because I'm 26.
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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!
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on June 20, 2003
If there is ever a film acting students must watch, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? is it. Personally, I had no problem with the DVD. Burton and Taylor are simply marvelous in their roles as two seriously disturbed people who have been married for...much too long. Taylor won an Academy Award and Burton should have won (no disrespect towards Paul Scofield for A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS). Edward Albee's brilliant characters and writing is simply breath-taking. That is if you can take 2 1/2 hours of absorbing drama about four miserable people (George Segal and Sandy Dennis are also excellent as the guests). It is true that a film like this isn't for everyone. The negative reviewers concern themselves with the mood of the film...why would anyone want to watch 4 people yelling at each for over 2 hours...but that isn't a review, and people expecting a Disney version of Albee's play shouldn't be watching it in the first place. Real life isn't easy to watch. Albee's story about an alcoholic professor and his over-bearing alcoholic wife is not easy to watch. Instead, the viewer must watch the film as life-like art, and an example for all filmmakers to follow. Director Mike Nichols had it filmed in black and white (Haskell Wexler), and most of the original play (screenplay by Ernest Lehman) remained intact. In a day when your average movie-going experience involves empty-headed entertainment (Matrix, X-men, Hulk, American Pie, Dumb and Dumberer, etc. - you know what I mean), WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, even if you need to be in the mood to watch it, is far easier to take in the long run.
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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.
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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.
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on April 8, 1999
When I first saw this film the language almost grossed me out but it made the film stronger. I was amazed at how Liz and Richard (husband number what...?) could actually stand each other and I wonder if their real-life intolerance of one another fueled the momentum they put into their perfomances. However, one may have to know who Virginia Woolf is in order to fully understand the point of the film. I know I had to. She's an author whose style of writing had a psychological effect on the reader. These elements are brought out in the play and movie. Watch for the scene involving the bitter truth about the couples' sixteen year old son. That should clear up a few things. However, this film made me laugh, as it reminded me of how my parents did nothing but fuss and fight and blast each other down with raring insults and vile cussing. It was a laugh to see Liz and Richard bicker at each other over little things. The music is also a plus. It echoes throughout the film after there has been a severe eruption of lost tempers and screaming fits. It seems to calm the viewer down and prepare them for more gut-searing verbal wars that have yet to come. Don't miss Sandy Dennis's drunken dance in the dance hall as she whirls around totally gone in herself. She deserved her Oscar very much. This will no doubt embed itself in your memory long after the final shot of the clasped hands fades into total blackness. Don't miss this one!
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on October 18, 2000
I've sat here for 15 minutes wondering what to write for this review. I still don't know how to describe how amazing this film is. I watched it for the first time last night because I knew Elizabeth Taylor was in it, and I've always been vaguely interested in her. Since then I have watched it another two times. Because I didn't quite understand it; because i realised how many metaphors and meanings and themes there are; and because it is an amazingly scripted, shot and acted movie. It's one of those films that affects you, makes you think about it afterwards and completely takes over for a while. I don't get this often with films (this and the color purple), so it's quite a find. Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the actress that played Honey all deserved oscars, with 'Nick' letting the movie down slightly in my opinion.
When I first saw this film, I was trying to keep up with the many meanings and themes, laughing hysterically at the sarcasm and wit (especially that of George) and was in awe of the fantastic acting. Not to mention trying to put the pieces together to get the full picture (which I still don't entirely have).
This should have been a book for it's complexities and metaphors and the strength of characters, and the way that it infects the mind. However, it is an amazing film, and I can't wait to read the play.
One of the best films of all time; watch it now!
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