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The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2005)

Charlize Theron , Geoffrey Rush , Stephen Hopkins  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

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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: Unrated
  • 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 (52 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007R4SX6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,006 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" on IMDb

Special Features

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

Editorial Reviews

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

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

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars and the winner is: Geoffrey Rush March 6, 2005
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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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing portrait of an unforgettable comic icon August 27, 2005
"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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The complex, crazy world of Peter Sellers July 5, 2005
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
BBC Films / HBO Films present a slightly unconventioanl biographical film of cultural icon Peter Sellers, featuring perfectly cast Geoffrey Rush as Sellers, Emily Watson as Anne Sellers (his first wife), Charlize Theron as Brit Ekland, Miriam Margolyes as his mother Peg Sellers, and Peter Vaughan as father Bill Sellers. Some of the real-life persons who influenced, and were influenced by Sellers are also played by the interesting cast, most notably Blake Edwards by John Lithgow and Stanley Kubrick by Stanley Tucci.

If you know something about Peter Sellers, you will realize that the film's power comes from Geoffrey Rush who has become Sellers himself. In fact, this picture is all about Sellers/Rush, and Sellers' troubled personalities, alarmingly close relations with his mother, and incredibly naive (and inconsiderate) way of treating people around him, are funny, fascinating, off-putting, or all in one.

The bio-pic completely ignores the childhood of Sellers, and after the opening credits (with delightful animations) it jumps straight to the days of the popular BBC radio show. Then, you see his humiliating audition for the film (and his tactful revenge), meeting with Sophia Loren and a fortune teller (cameo by Stephen Fry), Hollywood and the successful 'Pink Panther' series, Stanley Kubrick and his legendary triple roles, and 'B.E.' The film follows the events of his life, but you may feel that some integral parts are missing from that.

The superficial touch, if any, is owing to the fact that the film presents Peter Sellers as a man without self. His face is, so to speak, 'surgically removed' and there is no identity, no real Peter Sellers in him. According to the interpretaion of the film, that's why he can be in character so easily and convincingly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Geat Movie
this is a good movie.if you like peter sellers and want to know what he was like behind the scenes, this is for came in just in time too. good service.thank you much.
Published 7 months ago by nightlavender
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent acting...depressing story
I guess I am not a true Peter Sellers fan; I enjoyed the Clouseau role and such and it was an interesting look behind the curtain so to speak but it made me never want to watch... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Photographer Advocate
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Sellers
Great depiction of the Late Peter Sellers and if they ever make a more traditional Pink Panther, Geoffrey Rush hit it on the nail.
Published 14 months ago by Consuelo Tobias
5.0 out of 5 stars New insight into the man behind the characters
The face of Peter Sellers is so well-known that the challenge of playing him
on screen is a very daunting one. Read more
Published 17 months ago by musicfan
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look at an interesting man
A great movie that doesn't hold back on the punches. The movie doesn't paint Sellers as this perfect guy and instead shows him as a man of many weaknesses. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Joe
1.0 out of 5 stars An absolute hatchet job
Oh yes Geoffrey Rush is superb indeed. But this poor excuse for a biography of a great comic actor does not deserve such a fine performance. Read more
Published 17 months ago by MACLEAR
5.0 out of 5 stars People like it.
I never saw it. Gave it to a friend that send me the book. Did not read the book either. The only movie that I liked was the Gardener, otherwise, I never got his "genious". Read more
Published 17 months ago by Gerardo Martinez Casas
3.0 out of 5 stars not as good as i remember
I think his life could've been made into a better, more interesting movie. This was like a fantasized, dramatic documentary. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Deidre
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to Watch if you like Peter Sellers
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. Read more
Published on April 7, 2012 by The Peripatetic Reader
3.0 out of 5 stars Eye Candy and great acting but a TERRIBLE script
I had caught part of this on Sky and was eager to watch the full film but I'm a bit disappointed. For starters the breaking down of the fourth wall (the imaginary wall that... Read more
Published on November 5, 2011 by TrueBrit
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