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The Life and Death of Peter Sellers

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The Life and Death of Peter Sellers + Being There (Deluxe Edition) + Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Special Edition)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

(Drama) HBO Films presents The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, a kaleidoscopic look inside the unquiet mind of Peter Sellers. Despite his Hollywood success, his comic virtuosity belied a troubled private life plagued by self-loathing, insecurity and abusive behavior. The film peers behind the many faces of Peter Sellers to reveal how this comic genius teetered on the edge of madness.

DVD Features:
Audio Commentary
Deleted Scenes

Geoffrey Rush is in bravura form in his shape-shifting performance as one of the cinema's great chameleons: Peter Sellers. This higgledy-piggledy biopic races across the high and low points of Sellers's adult life, pretty much sticking to the standard explanation (endorsed by Sellers himself) that his genius for mimickry and impersonation was the result of lacking a personality of his own. Sellers's monstrous treatment of wives and colleagues is balanced by his childlike enthusiasms, all nicely captured by Rush. As for the re-creations of Sellers routines from The Goon Show or Dr. Strangelove, Rush gives it a game and sometimes inspired go. Other characters are as incidental as they seem to have been to Sellers himself, with Miriam Margolyes (as Peter's grasping, goading mother) and Emily Watson (patient first wife) especially good. Charlize Theron is Britt Ekland, with little more to do than adopt a Swedish accent. The events chosen to illustrate Sellers's neuroses seem random--from a drawn-out infatuation with Sophia Loren to his feud with Blake Edwards--and the film piles up until Sellers's heart finally gives out. This middling life story could have made, and deserves, a great documentary. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Eight never-before-seen deleted scenes
  • "Making of The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Charlize Theron, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, John Lithgow, Stanley Tucci
  • Directors: Stephen Hopkins
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: May 10, 2005
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007R4SX6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,559 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 6, 2005
Format: DVD
Geoffrey Rush will no doubt win every award available to him in this bravura performance for this BBC/HBO production. Based on the rather tabloid-sleaze biography by Roger Lewis, it presents a portrait of a demented, self-obsessed man who hurts everyone he comes in contact with. Taking into consideration the final facts stated in the film (he left his children $ 2,000.00 apiece) there is probably more truth than one would care to believe in this account of Peter Sellers, which starts with his appearances on The Goon Show, shows his twisted relationship with his mother, the women he abused in various ways, his difficult behavior on the movie sets, and ends during the time of "Being There", the award-winning 1979 film about a gardener who becomes a politician.

Geoffrey Rush is phenomenal as Sellers; and I especially like the scenes when he becomes his mother, as well as Blake Edwards. Rush is made to look somewhat like Sellers, but it is the body language and the verbal inflection that makes this portrayal so convincing.

Others in the cast are also excellent: Miriam Margoyles as his mother, Emily Watson as wife # 1, Charlize Theron as Britt Ekland, Stanley Tucci as Stanley Kubrick, Stephen Fry amusing as celebrity psychic Maurice Woodruff, and the very underrated John Lithgow once again terrific as Blake Edwards. Sonia Aquino is impressive in the small part of Sophia Loren.

The direction by Stephen Hopkins is stylish and well-paced, and the score by Richard Hartley is peppered with Tom Jones singing "It's Not Unusual", and other songs that fit into the timeline from The Animals, The Kinks, and more.

A way above average Cable TV production, it's a riveting look at a great talent gone wrong, and a "must see" for Rush's performance alone. Total running time is 122 minutes.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on August 27, 2005
Format: DVD
"The Life and Death of Peter Sellers," directed by Stephen Hopkins, looks at the remarkable life of the actor who triumphed in such films as "Dr. Strangelove" and "Being There." The film covers Seller's early days in British radio, his troubled personal life, his marriages, his relationship with his parents, his box office successes, his craftsmanship as a performer, and his relationship with director Blake Edwards. "Life and Death" opens up with a colorfully anarchic animated sequence (done to a swingin' Tom Jones song) and never loses its energy.

It takes a brilliant chameleon to play a brilliant chameleon, and Geoffrey Rush is amazing in the title role. He creates a remarkable portrait as he not only portrays Sellers at different stages of his life, but also recreates some of Sellers' most famous screen roles. Rush is ably supported by a stellar cast that includes Charlize Theron and Emily Watson. In one of the film's most striking motifs, Rush temporarily takes over some of his costars' roles and seemingly plays Sellers playing various individuals in his life; this motif is itself a clever, and eerily effective, homage to Sellers' own ability to play multiple roles in a single film.

The film mixes together some of the standard biopic elements with some really surreal elements and sequences. Overall it's a highly effective blend. Sellers ultimately is portrayed as a volatile creative force, capable of destructive rages as well as of great charm, playfulness, and generosity. His story is superbly complemented by a great soundtrack of evocative songs. Visually the film is stunning to look at as it captures different decades that Sellers lived through.

The DVD of the film is loaded with great extras.
Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 5, 2005
Format: DVD
Who was Peter Sellers? According to Stephen Hopkins film he was anybody his director and public wanted him to be; a little boy trapped in a man's suit who could adopt any persona and "be" that person. Geoffrey Rush gives a brilliant performance as Sellers. Unlike most movies, we see the most important moments in Sellers' life from his perspective; when a traumatic event happens (whether it be his wife saying she's leaving him, his mother dying, etc.) we "see" Sellers become that character and injecting what that moment meant to him. Ultimately, Sellers comes across as a self centered child who could and would become anyone to please those around him.

Hopkins complex but riveting film begins while Sellers is a member of the cast for The Goon Show on radio. Trying to break through to films, Sellers realizes the only way he can land a role that he wants as an elderly, daft gentlement is to show up already in character. Nobody knows who he is and he's immediately offered the role only then stepping out from behind the identity that he's assumed. As Sellers shoots to international stardom in "The Mouse That Roared" and in his signature role of Inspector Clouseau in "The Pink Panther", he also begins to lose control of his life distancing himself from his family and alienating his wife.

Rush manages to capture Sellers to a T.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The Peripatetic Reader on April 7, 2012
Format: DVD
I am a great Peter Sellers fan. Have been all my life. For that reason it was especially difficult to watch this film the first time I saw it. I couldn't believe he was such a monster in life. In fact I did not see it a second time for a long, long time. Then when I saw it a second time it clicked what a tortured, vulnerable person he apparently was in life; domineered by his mother, really unsure how to mange his life, not sure about anything, really.

I have no doubt that the picture is accurate. I remember watching an impromptu interview of Sellers taken at a dinner party, where he continually answered the questions in character -- some character -- and never in what could be construed as an authentic voice or personality. His genius of characterization was a defense mechanism to guard what must have been a very wounded frightened person, the end product of having "surgically removing" his real personality.

The film relapses into surrealism at times, which is totally appropriate. He was a surrealistic person; there, but not there; always alluding capture; never showing his true colors; constantly hiding behind his own characters; constantly looking for someone to take care of him, rejecting many. Who was the real Peter Sellers? You could never know, he probably didn't know, or didn't want to know, or like he would say, you can't go in there. Its all there in the film, brilliantly portrayed by Geoffrey Rush.
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