Who s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

  • Directors: Mike Nichols
  • Producers: Ernest Lehman
  • Writers: Ernest Lehman, Based on the play by Edward Albee
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis

Set on the campus of a small New England college, the film focuses on the violent and volatile relationship of associate history professor George and his overweight, hard-drinking, and crudely boisterous wife Martha, the daughter of the college president.

It’s 2:00am Sunday morning, and they have returned from one of her father’s gatherings. Martha announces she has invited a young couple – Nick, a young, good-looking, newly-appointed instructor, and his mousey wife Honey – to join them for drinks. George is disturbed because she did so without consulting him first, prompting Martha to launch into the first of many loud and lengthy tirades during which she taunts and criticizes him. Knowing his wife is an ugly drunk, he asks her to behave herself when they arrive, and when the doorbell rings, he warns her to refrain from mentioning their child to their company.

Overhearing Martha’s crude retort as the door opens, Nick and Honey – too polite and naïve to have declined the late-night invitation in the first place – immediately feel ill at ease and quickly find themselves caught in the middle of a verbal warzone when their efforts to engage in small talk set off a volley of insults between their hosts. Martha begins to flirt lewdly with Nick while his meek wife tries to pretend she is unaware of what is happening.

Nick suddenly realizes George and Martha’s child never existed. For years they have filled the void in their marriage with a pathological obsession with a fantasy child. As the sun rises, Nick and Honey depart, leaving their hosts physically exhausted and emotionally depleted. Martha asks if it really was necessary for their son to die, and George gently tells her it was time.

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