There could be films better than this. Theoretically – it’s possible. I seriously doubt that, but you just never know. However, there can only be one film you watch at 4 o’clock in the morning when you’re 16 years old.
It’s somewhat incredible to rewatch it years later. Because as you do it, you realise that all those tiny little details, all those intonations coming from Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, the ones you know by heart – they do not simply affect you the way they did before. They are also well inside you, and have been all these years.
This should all sound awfully sentimental, and yet emotionally I still can’t get over it. Edward Albee’s plays have always done it for me. “The Zoo Story” got me into Beckett. “American Dream” got me through hospital hell. “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?” taught me more about human relationship than any other work of fiction. More in fact (and I do of course understand the blasphemous nature of what I’m about to say) than some real relationships I’ve had over the years.
And I still find it transfixing. The jokes sting, and the drama drags you across the floor and whips you about the room. Because you still don’t know – which part of it is illusion and which part is reality. This ‘snap’ part comes at any point. At any point.