The professional and personal life of actor and comedian Peter Sellers was a turbulent one. His early movie fame was based primarily on his comic characterizations, often of bumbling and foreign-accented persons, characters which he embodied. As his movie fame rose, he began to lose his own personal identity to his movie characters, leading to self-doubt of himself as a person and a constant need for reassurance and acceptance of his work. This self-doubt manifested itself in fits of anger and what was deemed as arrogance by many. In turn, his personal relationships began to deteriorate as his characterizations were continually used to mask his problems. His first wife, Anne Howe, left/divorced him and his relationships with his parents and children became increasingly distant. His relationship with his second wife, Swedish actress Britt Ekland, was based on this mask. In his later life, he tried to rediscover himself and his career with what would become his penultimate film role, ... Written by
The frame freezes and the end credits start. After some informations about the last part of life of Peter Sellers have scrolled up the screen, the credits stop and the camera suddenly pulls back, revealing Geoffrey Rush watching the end titles sitting in front of a monitor on a studio set. He turns toward the camera, waves, gets up, leaves the set and walks to a trailer. The camera tries to follow him inside, but he turns and says "You can't come in here". The door closes, and the camera zooms in on the sign with the name "Peter Sellers". The film again fades to black and we see the rest of the end credits. See more »
Life imitating art imitating life imitating art imitating life
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers has to be one of the most creative, complex and revealing non-documentary movies ever made about an actual person, living or dead, and the inspired casting of Geoffrey Rush is spot on - he's magnificent in all the various and sundry Sellers guises, especially the ones from Dr. Strangelove and The Pink Panther's bumbling inspector. The rest of the casting is excellent too, particularly Charlize Theron as the second "B.E." in Seller's life, Britt Ekland.
The thing I liked most about this movie was how the script let us see how Sellers created his characters - how he was constantly "in character" or inbetween characters. He admits in the movie to being an empty vessel, with no personality of his own; this is what allowed him to be such an insufferably cruel bastard to all the people who were closest to him: he used his immersive, endlessly obsessive artistic process as a weapon and, ultimately, as a substitute for being human.
It's always brutally hard as an artist to find the balance - you have to be true to your work, naturally, and as an actor especially you're constantly redefining your inner reality, but you can't do it at the expense of the people who love you and whom you profess to love; there has to be emotional and mental discipline otherwise you become psychotically self-indulgent, as this film showed Sellers to be. The most poignant scene in the movie for me was when Sellers, in his typically childish and deranged state, tells his little daughter, "I'm an empty shell, there's nobody inside," words to that effect, and she answers, with a sad wisdom that no child should have to learn to possess, "Yes, daddy."
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