Movies & TV Shows About Virginia Woolf

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Are you a Virginia Woolf fan looking to watch a movie or television show about her? Fortunately, there have been a handful of movies, documentaries and shows about the famous author in recent years.

The following is a list of movies and television shows about Virginia Woolf:

Movies About Virginia Woolf:

The Hours:

Released in 2002, this film is a drama directed by Stephen Daldry that is about how the lives of three different women are connected by Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway.

The characters include Clarissa Vaughan, who is a New Yorker planning a party for a writer friend; Laura Brown, a pregnant California housewife trapped in unhappy marriage in the 1950s; and Virginia Woolf herself as she struggles with mental illness while writing her novel in England in the 1920s.

Movie poster for The Hours

Starring Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf, Meryl Streep as Clarissa Vaughan and Julianne Moore as Laura Brown, the film is based on a novel by Michael Cunningham which won a Pulitzer Prize and a PEN/Faulkner award in 1999.

The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, eleven British Academy Film Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, among others, and it received positive reviews from critics and audiences.

The New York Times described it as “deeply moving” while the Guardian praised its “bracing experimental impact” and the Hollywood Reporter called it “fascinating.”

Vita & Virginia:

Released in 2019, this film is a biographical romantic drama directed by Chanya Button.

The film is set in the 1920s and tells the story of the love affair between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West.

Starring Elizabeth Debicki as Virginia Woolf, Gemma Arterton as Vita Sackville-West, and Isabella Rossellini as Lady Sackville, the film is based on a play of the same name by Eileen Atkins, who is also one of the film’s screenwriters.

Vita & Virginia movie poster

The film received primarily negative reviews from critics and audiences who criticized the film’s pacing and dull storytelling.

The Guardian described it as “brittle, self-conscious and perhaps a little absurd at times,” the New York Times called it “lifeless” and NPR said it “fails to dramatize falling in love convincingly.’

Documentaries About Virginia Woolf:

The War Within: A Portrait of Virginia Woolf:

Released in 1996, this documentary directed by Morten Bruus and John Feugi explores the connection between the personal story of Virginia Woolf and the turbulent times she lived in.

The documentary uses archival footage, letters and family photos to explore Virginia’s life and how the events going on around her affected her.

The Mind and Times of Virginia Woolf:

Released in 2002, this documentary directed by Eric Neal Young is a biography documentary on Virginia Woolf’s life.

The documentary features interviews with Virginia Woolf biographers, such as Hermoine Lee, Frances Spalding and Molly Hite, and was released as a special feature on the DVD of the film The Hours.

What Was Virginia Woolf Afraid Of:

This documentary, which originally aired on British television in March of 2020, was directed by Adrian Munsey and Vance Goodwin and discusses Virginia Woolf’s literary success, traumatic childhood and her struggles with mental illness.

What Was Virginia Woolf Afraid Of? movie poster

The documentary attempts to uncover the root cause of Woolf’s struggles with mental illness while it explores the real and present dangers in her life, such as sexual abuse, overbearing men and world wars.

TV Shows About Virginia Woolf:

Life In Squares:

This television show, which originally aired on BBC in 2015, is directed by Simon Kaijser and is a three-part series that explores the complicated personal lives of Virginia Woolf, her sister Vanessa Bell and the Bloomsbury Group.

Starring Catherine McCormack as Virginia Woolf, the show explores topics such as Virginia’s family, Virginia’s marriage to Leonard Woolf, Vanessa’s open marriage with Clive Bell as well as the affairs and relationships of the gay members of the Bloomsbury Group such as Duncan Grant and Lytton Strachey.

The show received mixed reviews when it aired. Reviewer Lucy Mangan highly recommended the show in an article in the Guardian, stating that although the dialogue can be a bit stuffy, the show is worth watching because once you “accept that you are in a wold where people convened salons…after that it’s very, very good.”

Yet, reviewer Rachel Cooke criticized the show in the New Statesman, stating that it is “too adoring” of the “unlikeable” Bloomsbury Group and called it “a pretty high-class kind of soap opera – but it’s still about who is sleeping with who…”

The Independent, called it “self-indulgent” and “over-sexed” while The Telegraph called it “lively.”

Downton Abbey: Season Four, Episode One:

Although Downton Abbey isn’t about Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf was portrayed as a character in the first episode of season four.

In the episode, one of the main characters in the show, Edith, goes to a literary party in London where she is introduced to Virginia Woolf.

The scene isn’t very long and her character doesn’t have much dialogue but it is interesting to see Virginia make an appearance in this popular television show.

According to news reports at the time, Virginia Woolf’s character was supposed to play a bigger part in the episode but her screen time was eventually scaled back to a cameo due to time restraints.

If you are interested in watching more Virginia Woolf-related movies, check out this article on movies based on Virginia Woolf novels.

Sources:
Holden, Stephen. “Film Review: Who’s Afraid Like Virginia Woolf?” The New York Times, 27 Dec. 2002, nytimes.com/2002/12/27/movies/film-review-who-s-afraid-like-virginia-woolf.html
Bradshaw, Peter. “The Hours.” The Guardian, 13 Feb. 2003, theguardian.com/culture/2003/feb/14/artsfeatures
Honeycutt, Kirk. “‘The Hours’: THR’s 2002 Review.” The Hollywood Reporter, 27 Sept. 2017, hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/hours-review-2002-movie-1070395/
The Hours Movie Review & Film Summary.” RogerEbert.com, rogerebert.com/reviews/the-hours-2002
Gonzalez, Ed. “Review: The Hours.” Slant Magazine, 17 Dec. 2002, slantmagazine.com/film/the-hours/
Dugdale, John. “Downton Abbey gives Virginia Woolf a room of her own.” The Guardian, 28 Sept. 2013, theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/sep/28/downton-abbey-virginia-woolf
Rees, Jasper. “Life In Squares, BBC One, review: ‘lively.” The Telegraph, 27 July. 2015, telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/tv-and-radio-reviews/11766185/Life-in-Squares-BBC-One-review.html
Cope, Rebecca. “Five Things You Need To Know About Life In Squares.” Haper’s Bazaar, 21 July. 2015, harpersbazaar.com/uk/culture/culture-news/news/a35028/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-life-in-squares/
Jones, Ellen. “Life in Squares, BBC2 – TV review: Self-indulgent and over-sexed, the Bloomsbury set were hard to take seriously.” The Independent, 30 July. 2015, independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/life-in-squares-bbc2-tv-review-selfindulgent-and-oversexed-the-bloomsbury-set-were-hard-to-take-seriously-10419923.html
Cooke, Rachel. “The Bloomsbury Group Were Unlikeable – But Life In Squares Is Too Adoring To Show It.” New Statesman, 30 July. 2015, newstatesman.com/culture/2015/07/bloomsbury-group-were-unlikeable-life-squares-too-adoring-show-it
Mangan, Lucy. “Life in Squares review: ‘absurd, beautiful characters in a ridiculously golden world.’” The Guardian, 28 Jul. 2015, theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2015/jul/28/life-in-squares-review-absurd-beautiful-characters-in-golden-world
Sky Arts explores the life of writer Virginia Woolf in new documentary.” British Period Dramas, 4 Feb. 2020, britishperioddramas.com/news/sky-arts-documentary-what-was-virginia-woolf-afraid-of/
Mann, Jenni. “”The Mind of a Writer.” Cent Magazine, centmagazine.co.uk/the-mind-of-a-writer/
Maguire, Richard. “What Was Virginia Woolf Afraid Of?” The Reviews Hub, 25 Nov. 2020, thereviewshub.com/tv-review-what-was-virginia-woolf-afraid-of/
What Was Virginia Woolf Afraid Of?” Stuck In A Book, 16 Nov. 2020, stuckinabook.com/what-was-virginia-woolf-afraid-of/
The War Within: A Portrait of Virginia Woolf.” TV Guide, tvguide.com/tvshows/war-within-a-portrait-of-virginia-woolf/1000158290/
Meyer, Carla. “Review: ‘Vita & Virginia’ plus bad editing adds up to hollow period romance.” Datebook, 4 Sept. 2019, datebook.sfchronicle.com/movies-tv/review-vita-virginia-plus-bad-editing-adds-up-to-hollow-period-romance
Hans, Simran. “Vita & Virginia review – leaden take on a Bloomsbury romance.” The Guardian, 7 Jul. 2019, theguardian.com/film/2019/jul/07/vita-and-virginia-review-elizabeth-debicki-gemma-arterton-leaden-woolf-sackville-west
Bradshaw, Peter. “Vita & Virginia review – a hothouse of patrician passion.” The Guardian, 4 Jul. 2019, theguardian.com/film/2019/jul/04/vita-virginia-review-gemma-arterton-elizabeth-debicki-isabella-rossellini
Young, Deborah. “‘Vita & Virginia’: Film Review.” The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Sept. 2018, hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-reviews/vita-virginia-1143677/
Jenkins, Mark. “’Vita & Virginia’: Get A Room (Of Your Own), You Two.” NPR, 22 Au. 2019, npr.org/2019/08/22/752799811/vita-virginia-get-a-room-of-your-own-you-two
Catsoulis, Jeannette. “‘Vita & Virginia’ Review: A Real-Life Affair Made Lifeless.” New York Times, 22 Aug. 2019, nytimes.com/2019/08/22/movies/vita-and-virginia-review.html
O’Sullivan. Michael. “Literary Legends Have Tepid Affair in the Stagy Biopic ‘Vita & Virginia.’” Washington Post, 30 Aug. 2019, washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/movies/literary-legends-have-a-tepid-affair-in-the-stagy-biopic-vita-and-virginia/2019/08/30/678e9160-ca67-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html
Where to Watch and Stream Vita & Virginia Free Online.” EpicSteam, epicstream.com/article/where-to-watch-and-stream-vita-virginia-free-online
Sky Arts Explores the Life of Writer Virginia Woolf in New Documentary.” British Period Dramas, 4 Feb. 2020, britishperioddramas.com/news/sky-arts-documentary-what-was-virginia-woolf-afraid-of/

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