The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (Warner) (2004)

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Released 13-Apr-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Geoffrey Rush (Actor) And Stephen Hopkins (Director)
Audio Commentary-Christopher Markus And Stephen McFeely (Writers)
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Making Of
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 121:31 (Case: 126)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:00) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Stephen Hopkins

Warner Home Video
Starring Geoffrey Rush
Charlize Theron
Emily Watson
John Lithgow
Miriam Margolyes
Peter Vaughan
Sonia Aquino
Stanley Tucci
Stephen Fry
Henry Goodman
Alison Steadman
Peter Gevisser
David Robb
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Ray Davies
Richard Hartley

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The last year has seen a lot of big-name biopic films, with the likes of Ray, The Aviator, Beyond the Sea, The Motorcycle Diaries, and Alexander, but it's a made-for-TV film that shines above all of them. Based on Roger Lewis' biography, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers is an absorbing, revealing, and touching film, deserving of its critical acclaim.

    Renowned British comedian Peter Sellers (Geoffrey Rush) made a name for himself in the 1960s as one of The Goons on BBC Radio (along with fellow Goons Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan). But the role he will always be remembered for was his (initially) supporting role in the The Pink Panther movies.

    As with many famous comedians, off-screen he was a completely different person. Some close to him even described him as a "monster". His marriage to his first wife, Anne (Emily Watson), was turbulent. It ended unhappily, as did his other three marriages, including his second to Britt Ekland (Charlize Theron).

    Sellers remains a mystery. It seems hard to separate him from the characters he played, and while many people knew him, few people actually claimed to know him well. While his comedic brilliance is unquestioned, many thought he suffered from serious psychological disorders, but then again, no one ever knew for sure. It's often said that the line between genius and madness is blurred. A peculiar and mysterious man, Sellers died in 1980, aged 54.

    The role of Sellers would be a challenging one - not only because he was a widely known and well recognized man, but also because the actor playing him would have to avoid cliché. While Sellers could be charming and hilarious, he could also be incredibly violent, volatile, and cruel. A number of actors pushed very hard for the role, including Mike Myers, Jim Carrey and Kevin Kline. In the end, the job went to Aussie Geoffrey Rush.

    Rush's award-winning performance is simply awesome. This is not just make-up assisted impersonation, as we often get in biopics. Covering over 30 years, (and 40 voices), Rush delicately balances the multi-faceted personality of Sellers. He effortlessly manages to present the ugly and mean side, but brings enough humanity to the role that the audience is never turned off watching.

    I also commend Director Stephen Hopkins who boldly directs the film with finesse and subtlety. Hopkins also makes some daring and artistic choices, which helps lift this HBO film above the ordinary.

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Transfer Quality


    Made for HBO, the video quality is very good, albeit very grainy.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 Enhanced.

    The sharpness of the image is good throughout. For example, consider the detail in the aerial shot of London at 22:30. The black level is excellent. The shadow detail is poor in some of the darker scenes, such as the shadowy scenes at 29:12 and 74:49.

    The colour appears to be intentionally muted, reflecting the bleak British climate and the often sombre mood. The colours are more lush in some sequences, such as when Sellers is in Rome or the US. Skin tones are accurate.

    There are no problems with MPEG or film-to-video artefacts. Tiny film artefacts appear infrequently throughout, but they are mostly small.

    English and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are present on the DVD, and both are accurate.

    This is a dual-layer disc, with the layer change at 63:00.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three audio options on the disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are fine.

    The musical score is credited to Ray Davies and Richard Hartley, and it effectively underscores the emotion of the story.

    The surround presence is quite front heavy, but there are moments when the rears are used effectively to provide ambience, such as the audience's applause at 2:22 and the London traffic at 22:32. As a dialogue-heavy, character-based drama, understandably there is not much work for the LFE track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are a few genuine extras.


    Animated with audio.

Audio Commentary-Geoffrey Rush (Actor) And Stephen Hopkins (Director)

    In this screen-specific commentary, both Rush and Hopkins display their good knowledge of Sellers and his films. While there are some lengthy gaps, I found what they had to say very interesting. The audio is Dolby Digital stereo surround.

Audio Commentary-Christopher Markus And Stephen McFeely (Writers)

    Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely provided an intelligent script, and they back that up with an intelligent commentary. Again, the audio is Dolby Digital stereo surround.

Deleted Scenes

    There are eight deleted scenes, none of which are of any note. They are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, non-16x9 Enhanced, with Dolby Digital audio.

Featurette-Making Of (12:16)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital audio, this short extra includes interviews with Rush, Blake Edwards, and has a quick look behind the scenes at the production.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Life and Death of Peter Sellers is to be released on DVD in Region 1 in May 2005. Both the R1 and R4 versions will be the same.


    The Life and Death of Peter Sellers is a touching and entertaining film, well worth checking out.

    The video quality is grainy, but very good.

    The audio quality is also very good.

    The extras are genuine.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
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"There are eight deleted scenes, none of which are of any note" - Sean Brady REPLY POSTED