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A Raisin in the Sun

4.3 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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(May 13, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Based on the play that inspired a generation, "A Raisin in the Sun" tells the story of a family living and struggling on Chicago's South Side in the 1950s. A fiercely moving portrait of people whose hopes and dreams are constantly deferred, "A Raisin in the Sun" was the first play written by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. The classic, still-relevant story now will be showcased in this totally new television movie adaptation. Sean Combs reprises the role which brought him critical acclaim in the highly anticipated, special three-hour television movie adaptation of the award-winning Broadway revival. Joining him is the cast of the award-winning production, including Emmy and Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad, four-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, Tony Award nominee Sanaa Lathan, plus "ER" star John Stamos.


Pride and poverty collide in this excellent television movie of the classic play A Raisin in the Sun. When Walter Younger (Sean Combs, a.k.a. P. Diddy), his wife Ruth (Audra McDonald, Private Practice), and his sister Beneatha (Sanaa Lathan, Something New) learn that their deceased father has left their mother Lena (Phylicia Rashad, The Cosby Show) with $10,000 in life insurance, their separate ideas of how to spend it threaten to pull the family apart. Lorraine Hansberry's passionate play ranks in the same tier as Death of a Salesman and Long Day's Journey Into Night. This version is taken from an acclaimed stage production, but the actors have expertly re-pitched their performances for the intimacy of the camera and the script has been subtly but effectively opened up to allow scenes to take place at multiple locations. Lathan, McDonald, and Rashad all deliver rich, multilayered performances; the casting of rapper Combs could have been a mere stunt, but though he lacks the chops of the powerhouse women, he acquits himself decently. Excellent supporting performances from Bill Nunn (Do the Right Thing) and John Stamos round out the cast. All in all, a rewarding adaptation of a play that continues to resonate with America's ongoing struggle with race. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • Dreams Worth While: The Journey of A Raisin in the Sun

Product Details

  • Actors: Bill Nunn, John Stamos, Sanaa Lathan, Audra McDonald, Justin Martin
  • Directors: Kenny Leon
  • Producers: John M. Eckert
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 13, 2008
  • Run Time: 131 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0013D8LNG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,805 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Raisin in the Sun" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This recent ABC production was erratic; I'd like to see if the DVD restores several of the key passages that were cut out, including the memorable speech Beneatha gives to Asagai about what inspired her to become a doctor--in fact, the vital heart-to-heart Act III conversation between these two, which ought to run about 10 minutes, gets boiled down to 5 minutes! (Compare this sequence with the one featured in the superb AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE dvd, in which Beneatha and Asagai have a heated debate about the power of one person to make a difference and the future of Africa, and you'll see that a great deal of social conscience, and relevance to our own post 9/11 world, was sacrificed).

Repeatedly, the edits that were made in what I saw in the broadcast were puzzling. The decision to have Mama visit her drunk son at The Green Hat is dubious; in the play, Hansberry characterizes Lena Younger as a Christian woman who despises liquor and the nightlife of the Southside. The decision to show the whole family visiting the dream house in Clybourne Park is a cop-out--in the play, Lena is the only one to have seen the property, which makes Walter's anger and feeling that his dream has been "butchered" palpable. The Murchison-Beneatha relationship gets short-changed as well--where's the tense 2nd date scene, in which she spurns his crude advances and sees him as a churlish, shallow fool? I also disagree with the producer's decision to have Travis remain in the room for many scenes--what made the original play great was the fact that Travis never gets to see his parents bicker, which is why he idolizes his father, who seems can do no wrong. Thus, some dramatic irony gets lost.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I bought this film to show my 10th grade English class after we finished reading the play. I thought this version might better hold my students attention since it is in color and stars Sean Combs. While the three women do a great job, Sean Combs seems sedated in his role as Walter. He just doesn't have that powder keg ready to explode energy that Sidney Poitier brought to the role. Also for teaching purposes, I would highly recommend showing the Sidney Poitier version. It sticks much closer to the original play. The new version has some unnecessary extra scenes that I assume were added just to get the film out of the apartment.
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Format: DVD
What happens when a film classic is revived? Sometimes it flops, but at other times it shines in a way not like the original but stands alone as a fine production. Such is what happens with Kenny Leon's revival of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun," which is a new version for a new audience while still remaining faithful to the original play. Having just seen again the original 1961 movie I was all set to not like the 2008 film. Not to worry. Mr. Leon has every reason to be proud of his work here. The three women are exceptional. Phylicia Rashad as the matriarch of the Younger family brings a youthfulness to the character of a woman still very much engaged in life and seeping with quiet strenth. Audra McDonald becomes the charcter Ruth, and Sanaa Lathan as Beneatha literally shines as the young twenty-year-old so full of ambition and hope for a better life. While Sean Combs is no Sidney Poitier and is not always completely believable as Walter, he redeems himself in the climatic scene when he delivers his "we just want to be good neighbors" speech to John Stamos, the spokesman for the white neighborhood where the Younger family will be moving to shortly.

There are nice touches added to this film not in the original version, if you have to compare the two. There are more scenes outside of the cramped, claustrophobic apartment where much of the action takes place. Additionally the voice over of Morgan Freeman reading the Langston Hughes poem "A Raisin in the Sun" is beautiful.

Incuded with the DVD is a version of the film with running commentary by Mr. Leon as well as interviews with practically everyone connected with the film. Much is made by all of them that this is a classic, that it is all about living one's dreams, the ability to love, etc., etc., etc.
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1 Comment 14 of 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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To be honest, I cannot compare this to the original, the play or the book. I haven't seen or read any of the above. I wanted to see this because I knew of the story, liked the look of the cast and because I knew how acclaimed this is. I really enjoyed it.
I thought acting by ALL was very good and Sean Combs was very good in it; almost like he's an actor rather than music mogul. Phylicia Rashad stole the movie - she played his mother and the scene where she finds out that her late husbands money has all gone, was amazing. I've always known her to be a comic actress and yet this performance was superb. John Stamos has a small role where he plays a nerdy (played well) white guy who is trying to deter the family from moving into a white neiborhood.
As the dvd cover says on the back - "Dreams can make a life worth living, but they can also be dashed by bad decisions". This is mostly what the movie is about. But how the family pull together to still give themselves a better life is the true lesson.
As I said, I cannot compare this version to anything else, but I really enjoyed it and thought it was done very well and acted well by everyone. I hope that it will get some Emmy nods because I feel it's very deserving. I loved it and hope you do as well.
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