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  • Death of a Salesman & Private Conversations [VHS]
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Death of a Salesman & Private Conversations [VHS]

39 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Dustin Hoffman, Kate Reid, John Malkovich, Arthur Miller, Volker Schlöndorff
  • Directors: Volker Schlöndorff, Christian Blackwood
  • Writers: Arthur Miller
  • Producers: Christian Blackwood, Michael Nozik, Nellie Nugiel, Robert F. Colesberry
  • Format: Color, Original recording reissued, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 2
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • VHS Release Date: January 28, 2003
  • Run Time: 135 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007ELIE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,479 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Willy Loman has spent his entire life believing he and his family are bound for greatness. Struggling day to day as a traveling salesman, Willy begins to lose touch with reality and drifts away into the past. Meanwhile his family, including wife Linda and sons Biff and Happy, attempts to cope with Willy's self-destruction and the still-lingering ghosts of the past. Arthur Miller's timeless Pulitzer Prize-winning play is brought to the screen with a powerhouse performance by Academy Award-winner Dustin Hoffman, who earned Emmy and Golden Globe Awards for this role. The stellar supporting cast features Kate Reid, Charles Durning, Stephen Lang, and in his first breakout role, John Malkovich as Biff, all guided by internationally-acclaimed director Volker Schlondorff (The Tin Drum) and a haunting score by legendary composer Alex North (Spartacus).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Michael Crane on February 6, 2003
Format: DVD
I was glad to find this DVD just shortly after reading the play. While I enjoyed reading it very much, I found the play to be very confusing. Just from the text alone it was hard to tell what was real and what wasn't. Seeing the film version of this triumphant play really helped a lot. "Death of a Salesman" is a sad and tragic drama that emotionally involves you from start to finish.
Willy Loman is a tired and heart-broken salesman who no longer lives in the world of reality. Instead, he is trapped in his world of delusions. Each day that passes by seems to be worse and worse for Willy. He spends way too much of his time in the past when he needs to be focusing on the future. His wife and two sons have no idea what they should do for him as they know that he is heading towards disaster in this unforgettable drama.
Like I said, to actually see this really made me appreciate the play more than just reading it from the text. It can get confusing when you only have the words, but when you see it performed it all comes together and make sense. The acting is terrific. Dustin Hoffman really does an outstanding job of playing Willy Loman. Not only does he just "act" the part out, he "becomes" Loman. I admit that I had my doubts at first, because I didn't see him playing the part. My doubts quickly fled from my mind after the first 10 minutes or so. Everybody else is also terrific as well. (Wow, look how young John Malkovitch looks!) I think the movie does a fine job doing Arthur Miller's play justice.
The DVD is pretty neat as well. The picture quality is good, considering the fact that it is an old movie. The DVD also includes a feature length documentary behind the movie, which is really entertaining, and a still gallery.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on August 22, 2004
Format: DVD
Before I watched the film version of Arthur Miller's classic play recently, I thought I was the only person on the planet who had not read or watched a version of his work. I had a good idea of the general outline of the whole thing before I went in, of course, thanks to years of pop culture references to Willy Loman, but I just never got around to sitting down for a look. Every once in awhile, I get frazzled that I haven't seen or read things that I feel every educated person ought to experience, hence it was way past time to see this one. So many different versions of the play exist, mostly made for television adaptations, that I worried a bit about which one was the best. I finally decided to view this 1985 Dustin Hoffman version simply because it was the only one I could find. Easy, huh? Yep, it was, but the subject matter of the play, and Hoffman's soul stirring performance as Willy Loman, did not make this an easy program to watch. "Death of a Salesman" is a depressing, sad play that makes you ponder ideas we Americans take for granted. Miller's work effectively tosses a bucket of ice water over the idea that the American Dream means everyone who works hard will ultimately succeed beyond his or her wildest expectations.

Willy Loman is a salesman who cannot escape the lure of past triumphs. He continually flashes back to earlier, halcyon days when his two sons, Biff (John Malkovich) and Hap (Stephen Lang), were in the prime of their life. These were good days, days full of big paychecks, hard work, a happy family, and sons whose athletic prowess promised great things. Biff especially looked as though he would have a wonderful future. His abilities as a football star virtually insured that he would end up at a great school, with even more promises to come.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com VINE VOICE on September 29, 2004
Format: DVD
Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich shine in this now classic play. Like Nora in Ibsen's "A Doll's House," we have characters confined by prescribed fate looking to climb out into their own.

What is fate?

In this case, Willy Loman is bound by his belief that personality alone, of being liked, is enough to make it to the American Dream. Unable to reconcile that those days never existed, and that hard work involved more than a firm handshake and a smile, he becomes despondent as he thinks of the lost potential. He is reminded in flashbacks and visions of relatives and friends who have succeeded.

His two sons are also confined to Willy's delusions of grandeur. Biff, played by Malkovich, had a future as a football star, but was handicapped by his dad's inhibitions and lack of reality. When he realizes his dad is a failure without integrity, after idolizing him, he concludes he too will be a failure.

Hap, on the other hand, Bif's brother, played by Stephen Lang, is a young Willy. He thinks his dad is right, and although he lives in futile mediocrity, believes dreaming is enough.

Kate Reid plays Willy's wife, Linda. She knows Willy is a failure, but tries to exist within the lie. She never declares the truth, but instead allows Willy to dream without substance.

Willy's hopes are shown worthless when he meets up with those, like Bernard, the nerdy math geek when Bif and Hap were children, and now practicing law in front of the Supreme Court. Willy asks what the secret is. His dream is nothing but the puff of a distortion of a Horatio Alger story, but he won't accept it. Bernard's father, Willy's neighbor, offers him a job, but Willy refuses.

The conflict is about encountering reality, and who will meet the truth.
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