Duels: Elizabeth Taylor versus Richard Burton

Documentary, 45 minutes
Written and directed by Michael Wech

The two are the dream couple of the 60s and 70s: Elizabeth Taylor is deemed to be one of the most beautiful women in the world, Richard Burton one of the best actors. The beginning of their relationship couldn’t have been more glamorous. Both fall in love with each other while shooting of the monumental film Cleopatra; Taylor plays the title part, Burton her beloved Marc Anton. Their director feels like “locked in with two tigers in a cage”. Soon, the love affair gets public. A scandal. Even the Vatican intervenes. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton get divorced from their particular marriage partners and marry each other.
But the marital day-to-day life of the dream couple turns into a nightmare. Burton goes green with envy: his wife has already won two Academy Awards. He, on contrary, was nominated seven times – without ever being awarded. Their former employees report about alcohol excesses, brickbats, even outbursts of violence. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton soon find out that they do not only feel love for each other, but also hatred. The enormous emotional strains in the house of Taylor and Burton provide good stories for the yellow press. Reporters gratefully take up every little quarrel. And the actor couple likes to play this bad game. All the headlines boost their market value to the sky. They work together in front of the camera ten times, but their most convincing performances are in their half public private lives. Awkward exposures and indignities change with highly dramatic reconciliation scenes. A psychological war.

First Run:
2008
Rights:
WDR

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