Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Review
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a 1966 film directed by Mike Nichols.
Both Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton are at their best, starring as Martha and George, both emotionally spent spouses, in their forties. George is a history professor and married to Martha, the daughter of the president of the New England university that George works at. They return home from one of Martha’s father’s parties at around two in the morning, and spend their time fiercely arguing, or as George says, “merely exercising… that’s all. We’re merely exercising what’s left of our wits.”
Their incessant arguing doesn’t stop even when a young Ivy League-type couple, Nick and Honey, get caught in the crossfire. The party of “fun and games” thrown by George and Martha reveals things about their marriage and also that of Honey and Nick’s. Starting when Martha mentions their son, the fun and games escalates to where George, after warning Martha, announces that their son is dead, saying he got a telegram that their sixteen year old son had died in a car crash. Martha begs him not to “kill” their son, saying he “can’t do this.” Nick then figures out that Martha and George couldn’t have kids, so they imagined a son and invented his life for the past 16 years.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was groundbreaking for its profanity and sexual implication; it was one of the films that led the film rating system to be changed. It shocked people because it didn’t stand by the cookie-cut vision of ideal, immaculate marriages, instead showed intimate, intense arguments made by worn out spouses.