Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 – 7:30pm
Director: Mike Nichols

Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Sandy Dennis, George Segal

A controversial and groundbreaking film when it was released, this
searing screen adaptation of Edward Albee’s Tony Award-winning play was
director Mike Nichols’s film debut. George (Richard Burton), a
hard-drinking associate professor of history at a small New England
college, and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor), his vitriolic wife of twenty
years and daughter of the school’s president, invite naïve young couple
Nick and Honey (George Segal and Sandy Dennis) back to their home one
night following a faculty party. What follows is a booze-soaked evening
of domestic blisslessness that culminates with the brutal exposing of
long-held illusions. The studio had hired then-happily-married
mega-stars Taylor and Burton in the lead roles of Martha and George
(names based on the first U.S. president and his wife); Nichols elicited
from Taylor what many believe to be her finest performance. The film
was nominated for 13 Oscars (it remains the only film in Academy Awards
history to be nominated in every eligible category) and won five,
including Taylor for Best Actress (her second) and Dennis for Best
Supporting Actress. “One of the most scathingly honest American films
ever made. Its advertisements say, ‘No one under 18 will be admitted
unless accompanied by his parent.’ This may safeguard the children; the
parents must take their chances” (Stanley Kauffmann, New York Times) B&W, screening format TBA. 131 mins.

Post-screening discussion with Michael van den Bos,
a Vancouver-based film teacher, writer, historian and producer. Michael
spent 20 years in the Vancouver animation industry, producing a variety
of animated television programming and short theatrical cartoons.
Currently, he teaches Film Theory at the Vancouver Film School; Film
History at the Pacific Audio Visual Institute; and the History of
Character Animation at Capilano University. Michael writes a bi-monthly
film column called “Cinemascope” for Vancouver View magazine and film reviews and film essays for his website/blog “Movie Mad.”

Moderated by Dr Harry Karlinsky, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.


“Keen adaptation and
handsome production by Ernest Lehman, outstanding direction by Mike
Nichols in his feature debut, and four topflight performances score an
artistic bullseye.”

Variety | full review

“They ooze a riveting amount of
shabby-genteel, gone-to-hell glamour. That’s not blood running through
their veins — it’s booze, spite, nicotine and fear.”

Salon | full review

“This is Mike Nichols’s debut as a film director, and it is a successful Houdini feat.”

New York Times | full review