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Sunday in the Park with George

4.4 out of 5 stars 156 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description


Stephen Sondheim's landmark 1984 musical Sunday in the Park with George is a fictional representation of maverick French Impressionist painter Georges Seurat's efforts to create his masterpiece, Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte. Seurat, played by Mandy Patinkin, is obsessed with his work, to the frustration of his mistress, Dot (Bernadette Peters). Along the way, we meet many other characters--whoever happens to be in the park that Sunday--who eventually become part of the canvas.

Act 2 fast-forwards 100 years. Patinkin now plays Seurat's great-grandson, George, himself a frustrated artist. (Peters plays his grandmother--Seurat and Dot's daughter.) In the score's best-known song, "Putting It Together," George (and Sondheim himself) explains the hazards of trying to create art while also confronting the reality of having to pay for it. In a search for inspiration, George travels to the original island where Seurat created the painting. As with Sondheim and cocreator James Lapine's next collaboration, Into the Woods, Sunday is often criticized for redirecting its focus in the second act instead of letting the first act stand by itself as a complete work. The second act, however, is the emotional core of the show, as George confronts all the feelings his great-grandfather had repressed so many years ago.

Stephen Sondheim's brilliant score is remarkable for its combination of vivid colors (listen to his dots of sound that represent Seurat's pointillistic style of painting), character pieces, and sheer beauty. The cast is terrific, and the show, aced out of most of the 1984 Tony Awards by La Cage aux Folles, won the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Recorded before a live audience, Sunday is especially entertaining on video, as the staging elements bring out the full humor and inventiveness of the show, and it is astonishing to see the disparate characters form themselves into the elements of the familiar painting. So many great musicals are banished to the memories of those who attended live or--even worse--immortalized as inferior movies. Sunday in the Park with George is an absolute must-see for anyone interested in musical theatre, and a must-own for anyone with a passion for it. The DVD includes an audio track with commentary by Sondheim, Lapine, Patinkin, and Peters. --David Horiuchi

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Barbara Bryne, Mary D'Arcy, Sue Anne Gershenson
  • Directors: Terry Hughes
  • Writers: James Lapine
  • Producers: Bernard B. Jacobs, Emanuel Azenberg, Gerald Schoenfeld, Iris Merlis, Michael Brandman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 23, 1999
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 630530209X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,112 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sunday in the Park with George" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"But it's warm inside his eyes ... and it's soft inside his eyes ..." Some say Sondheim is cerebral and sophisticated. However, I am always very moved by SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. I especially find the first act to be the best part of the show. And Sondheim constantly warms my heart with his lyrics and beautiful music.
The production of the video of the show is very good. Lapine gets some good shots, even though it's basically a taped version of a Broadway show. The editing in spots is very good.
Bernadette Peters, a favorite performer of mine, is not in very good voice for the taping. I think I've read that she was having vocal problems at the time. Some dubbing is apparent in spots. Mr. Patinkin is very subdued and subtle in his performance.
The DVD is a preferable way to watch this show due to its extra audio track of Sondheim, Lapine, Peters and Patinkin reminiscing about it. There are some great stories told by the group. Mr. Sondheim sheds some light on the earlier drafts of songs and scenes.
Remember, this show won the Pulitzer Prize! It is not an "Oklahoma" kind of musical -- it's very artsy and concerns a difficult man obsessed with his art. But it is so sweet and clever. Like Seurat's famous painting that the musical is based on, the stellar talent behind the show blend together to produce a truly luminescent experience.
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Format: DVD
'Beautiful does not...'
This is more than a pretty play. There is a significance, sophistication and depth in this musical that goes well beyond what you would expect. Every time I have had the opportunity to catch this musical on HBO or PBS I have taken it - it has been well worth seeking out.
This story is a complete work of fiction that centres around the life of the painter. It's not really about the painter, or about the painting. It's about art. It's about the art of making art. It's about the search for significance and meaning to our lives. It's about connecting with the world around you. It's about living life for all it's worth, with all you've got, and not settling for the mediocre or second-best. It's about standing back from the dots that make up our lives and looking how it all fits together, allowing the perspective (or lack) fall into its proper place.
This DVD is worth obtaining for two reasons. First, you WILL want to watch this over and over, and review it from time to time. Because you have changed between viewings, the play will say different things to you. Second is the commentary with James Lapine who wrote the libretto, Stephen Sondheim who scored the music, and Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters. There are times where the commentary goes completely quiet, which is sometimes confusing (I would have preferred if they spoke through the whole thing, and I can't tell if the recording equipment failed to record some parts, or if they were really silent. This is a minor complaint, and I'm still very happy to have this DVD.)
I have recommended this movie to many friends, of different backgrounds, and with a few exceptions most have come away with many reasons (often different from my own) as to why they enjoyed and were touched by the play.
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Format: DVD
As someone who did not see the original production of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, I am more grateful for this film of the stage play than I can possibly express. Although both Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin have both enjoyed fine careers in film and television in addition to their stage work, their best work has been on stage, and by the nature of the medium, it has been more or less lost to us. This performance captures them doing what they do best. It is ironic that with the semi-rebirth of the film musical in recent years, there has been no attempt to do so with Patinkin, the premiere musical stage performer of the past thirty years. Here he is a marvel, crafting songs with vocals stylings of an inconceivable range.

Sondheim's score is a thing of glory. Unlike many previous composers, Sondheim was concerned with making each song an organic part of the work as a whole. They don't stand alone, but absolutely require their setting in the rest of the musical. It is as if Sondheim wanted to make it impossible for any of them to be excerpted. Yet, each one is utterly remarkable, stamped with the highest possible craft and talent. What sets Sondheim's art apart from his fellow composers is the brilliance of his arrangements. He clearly has invested as much effort in arranging the music as he has in crafting the lyrics and writing the initial music. The arrangements are so hypnotic that at times I actually had to listen twice to a couple of musical numbers because I realized that I had failed to listen to the lyrics. The effect of the brilliant songs, the extraordinary performances, and the astonishing arrangements is absolutely breathtaking.

The cast is beyond reproach, with numerous stellar performances beyond those by Patinkin and Peters.
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Format: DVD
In the theatre SUNDAY baffled some, and enthralled others. The TV version (taped the week after the show closed in the Booth theatre where it played for 604 performances) is a beautiful transfer from stage to(small)screen.

The sensitive performances, the delicate orchestrations, Tony Staiges Tony Award winning scenery, James Lapine's Pulitzer prize winning writing and Stephen Sondheim's deceptively beautiful score all combine to make this something very special.

Perhaps a little too special: SUNDAY lost the 1984 Tony award to LA CAGE AUX FOLLES - an enjoyable yet conventional musical comedy (HELLO DOLLY! in drag) - and most of the initial reviews were unfavourable. But the show had its supporters and continued to attract audiences and even some of the critics who disliked the show at first later reversed or at least "clarified" their opinions.

Truth be told, SUNDAY is a rich piece and it is just not possible to penetrate all its layers in a single vieweing.

The DVD allows viewers a chance to study, to consider, and yes, even question both the show and the painting that inspired it. Is that really a baby carriage? Why a monkey? How is the flower in the hat made to have such a shimmering violet color?

The show contains sequences that do not in any way resemble standard musical theatre: The long number "The Day off" or even more startling, "It's Hot Up Here!" are in no way "standard" showtunes in 4/4 time. If anything, it is actually more like a chamber opera, but then labels are irrelevant.

SUNDAY tells a tale of artistic creation. The artist makes many sacrifices in his quest to "finish the hat." This DVD makes the case exceptionally well, with a fascinating commentary by Sondheim, Lapine, Peters and Patinkin.
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