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Directed by Mike Nichols
USA 1966

 

Mike Nichols' first directorial effort represents a milestone in psychological realism and "foul" language in American cinema. George and Martha, as played superbly and without vanity by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, are as far from the bourgeois 1950s perfect married couple as you can get, alternatively badgering, berating, abusing and loving each other, both alone and accompanied by the naive young married couple that have come over for a nightcap (portrayed brilliantly by George Segal and Sandy Dennis). The fun and games in which George and Martha involve Nick and Honey are a lacerating look at the older couple's existence, where the emotional brutalizing fill an unspeakable void at their center, and a troubling preview of what the younger couple's life could become. Edward Albee's dramatic vision combines the banal, the vulgar and the poetic, and Ernest Lehman's adapted screenplay is amazingly faithful to the structure of Albee's play. The acting is uniformly excellent, and Taylor and Burton were never better together. A harrowing movie experience, but very worthwhile and finally unforgettable.

Posters

Theatrical Release Date: June 22, 1966

Reviews                                                          DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Warner Home Video - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC vs. Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

1) Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Warner  Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Cover

 

    

    

  

Distribution Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC Warner Archive
Region FREE  -
Blu-ray
  1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.61 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.75:1 Disc Size: 48,787,490,989 bytes

Feature Size: 40,757,551,104 bytes

Total Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

Time:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Bitrate: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Blu-ray

Audio English (original mono), French mono DUBs on The V.I.P.s and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Sandpiper

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1803 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1803 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Czech 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Polish 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
* Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Commentaries:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

Subtitles English, Spanish, French, None NOTE: Korean and Portuguese added for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? English (SDH), French, German, Spanish, Korean, Czech, Polish, Romanian, Thai , Turkish, Japanese, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratios - all 2.35:1 except Who's Afraid... at 1.75:1 

Edition Details:
Commentary by directors Mike Nichols and Steven Soderbergh
Commentary by cinematographer Haskell Wexler
Vintage biographical profile: Elizabeth Taylor: An Intimate Portrait
New featurettes: A Daring Work of Raw Excellence, Too Shocking for Its Time
1966 Mike Nichols interview
Sandy Dennis screen test
Taylor/Burton movie trailer gallery

DVD Release Date: December 5th, 2006

4 slim transparent keep cases inside a cardboard box
Chapters: various

Release Information:
Studio:
Warner

 

1.75:1 Disc Size: 29,219,302,983 bytes

Feature Size: 28,681,936,896 bytes

Total Bitrate: 32.98 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
Commentary by directors Mike Nichols and Steven Soderbergh
Commentary by cinematographer Haskell Wexler
Vintage biographical profile: Elizabeth Taylor: An Intimate Portrait (1:06:31)
A Daring Work of Raw Excellence (20:14)

Too Shocking for Its Time (10:37)
1966 Mike Nichols interview (9:00)
Sandy Dennis screen test (7:13)
Taylor/Burton movie trailer gallery

Trailer (2:13)
 

Blu-ray Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 26

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray June 16': We already reviewed the Taylor/Burton Film Collection DVD set from 2006 HERE, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2-disc SE) was the only film of the set sold separately at the time. This 2016 Blu-ray is excellent - dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. It surpasses the strong DVD with more depth and better layered contrast. It also appears to be in the, approximate, 1.75:1 aspect ratio. There is some decent grain texture and probably can't look much better.

Warner use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel - 1803 kbps (24-bit) and the film is basically dialogue-driven (often emotional.) The score is by the great Alex North (The Wonderful Country, Man with the Gun, Under the Volcano, Viva Zapata, Spartacus, Man With the Gun, A Streetcar Named Desire and more) sounding crisp and clean. There are DUBs and optional subtitles on the region FREE Blu-ray disc.

Extras duplicate the 2-disc SE DVD with the two commentaries, the, over hour-long, vintage biographical profile: Elizabeth Taylor: An Intimate Portrait, featurettes - A Daring Work of Raw Excellence, Too Shocking for Its Time, a 1966 Mike Nichols interview, a Sandy Dennis screen test and trailer gallery of films.

Great release - timeless, almost hypnotic, performances - an emotional train wreck you have trouble turning away from - reminding yourself that it is art... not reality. I put this on my 'keeper' shelf. Absolutely recommended!

***

ON THE Taylor / Burton Film Collection BOXSET: NOTE: Although the 4 main features of this boxset are housed in individual slim transparent keep cases (see images below) only Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2-disc SE) is sold separately at this time (HERE) - the rest can only be obtained in Warner's Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton Film Collection Boxset. They have been transferred progressively, 16X9 enhanced in the NTSC standard, coded for Regions 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Image: Aside from The V.I.P.'s - all transfers look excellent. The V.I.P.'s shows some dirt and is a bit saturated - black levels also appear to be a notch boosted. It is noticeably weaker than the rest. The Sandpiper looks the sharpest with vibrant colors and tight lines - a superb transfer. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is also very strong with fabulous contrast and dusted grey tones. The Comedians appears quite acceptable as well but possibly a notch less sharp. Still no real complaints as overall the video quality is far better than I anticipated. These DVDs looked great on my system!  

Audio - again very strong. Original (un-boosted) tracks are offered and I didn't notice any instances of pops, hiss or dropouts. There are French mono DUBs available on all but The Comedians. The package offers excellent subtitles in English, French or Spanish for all four feature films (see font/position sample below for The Sandpiper). NOTE: Korean and Portuguese are added for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Extras - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2-disc) is stacked with 2 commentaries - the 1st with directors Mike Nichols and Steven Soderbergh, the second is the same one from the original release by cinematographer Haskell Wexler. I remember enjoying Wexler's the first time I heard it although it was a while back and I appreciated Nichols comments on the new one, I wasn't partial to Soderbergh's input as he wavered sometimes acting as reviewer - often giving no valuable input. On top of that Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has a 2nd disc with some good material - a vintage biographical profile: Elizabeth Taylor: An Intimate Portrait (seen this before somewhere - its quite interesting in a superficial way), Featurettes - A Daring Work of Raw Excellence, Too Shocking for Its Time, a 1966 Mike Nichols interview, a Sandy Dennis screen test and more.
The V.I.P.s has no digital supplements.
The Sandpiper offers two old featurettes: The Big Sur and A Statue for the Sandpiper
The Comedians also has a vintage featurette entitled The Comedians in Africa but I found this a bit of a bore. Others may disagree.

The aura of Taylor and Burton's love affair(s) constantly spilled off the screen and into the gossiping headlines - it was hard not to know about their trials and tribulations. It was always reinforcing their star magnetism, but behind that we have true talent and their choices of films often pushed the artistic envelope of the era. Grandiose in a kind of royalty way, they were a couple we loved.

I really enjoyed these films - actually re-watching as I had seen them all many years ago (except The V.I.P.s - which if I did I have no recollection of). I think the boxset is priced accordingly and has good value - just buying Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? costs over half of the entire collection, which we do recommend. Great job Warner!     

Gary W. Tooze


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1) Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner  Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner  Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner  Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

Box Cover

 

    

    

  

Distribution Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC Warner Archive
Region FREE  -
Blu-ray




 

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