In the end, I thought I’d go with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? first, mainly because I knew the least about it.
I’m still not entirely sure I could tell you what it was all about.
I can see why it still gets talked about today, and why it was nominated for so many Oscars. If nothing else, it certainly grips you the whole way through – mainly (I think) because it’s so completely unsettling. None of the four characters behaves quite like you’d expect a real person to behave. Yes, it’s already 2.00am when the film starts; and, yes, the characters are all drunk for most of the movie – but I don’t think that explains it completely. I think they’re all just a bit mad.
Would I recommend it?
Probably not above other films.
Do I regret having seen it?
No. Definitely not.
There’s brilliance in there among the madness – particularly when you think about it as a play to read rather than a movie to watch. There’s a lot of very clever dialogue that doesn’t always sound quite right spoken out loud, but which reads really well on paper. And even as a movie, it has a lot of charm. George (Richard Burton) in particular definitely grew on me, and I think the exchanges between him and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) were the highlights of the film.
Martha: [derogatorily, to George] Hey, swamp! Hey swampy!
George: Yes, Martha? Can I get you something?
Martha: Ah, well, sure. You can, um, light my cigarette, if you’re of a mind to.
George: No. There are limits. I mean, a man can put up with only so much without he descends a rung or two on the old evolutionary ladder, which is up your line. Now, I will hold your hand when it’s dark and you’re afraid of the boogeyman and I will tote your gin bottles out after midnight so no one can see but I will not light your cigarette. And that, as they say, is that.
I’m sure if I’d actually read the play I’d have a lot more to say about the state of George and Martha’s marriage (and Nick and Honey’s), but I’m not big on digging through layers of meaning when I’m not required to write an English paper. In that sense, I’ve come away from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? feeling a bit like I did when I finished The Bell Jar – I know there’s something deep and meaningful in there, but I’m too lazy right now to puzzle it out.
With that in mind, I think I’ll go watch True Blood.