A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte by Georges Seurat is one of the great paintings of the world, and in "Sunday in the Park with George," book writer James Lapine and composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim brin... more »g a story based on the work brilliantly to life. While the painting depicts people gathered on an island in the Seine, the musical goes beyond simply describing their lives. It is an exploration of art, of love, of commitment. Seurat connected dots to create images; Lapine and Sondheim use connection as the heart of all our relationships. Winner of the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.« less
George K. from COLCHESTER, CT Reviewed on 11/18/2015...
It's just lovely, with Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin outstanding as the leads.
Know that George is a rather philosophical stage musical, largely about the art of George Seurat, the pointillist.
Filmed before a live audience, complete with audience responses, it's not a conventional movie. By today's standards, it's quaint.
The ideas are worth consideration and the music is worth hearing and the actors are excellent.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
DVD Features Story Behind Sondheim's Musical
Matt Howe | Washington, DC | 12/05/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
""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."
So many things to love!
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 10/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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. Barbara Byrne, Dana Ivey, Charles Kimbrough, and many others perform their roles to perfection. Interestingly, shortly after the run of the musical was over, two of the cast members went on to major television stardom: Charles Kimbrough stood out as Jim Dial in MURPHY BROWN while Brent Spiner created one of the most beloved characters in television history as Data in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.
In general, I have a low opinion of the stage musical. Most of them are more glitter and surface than substance, with superficially appealing music. SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, however, is one of the grand exceptions. The word "genius" is thrown around far too often, but it can be applied here with no impropriety."
"Pretty isn't beautiful. Pretty is what changes...
Scott Advani | Edmonton, AB | 01/08/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'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."
Mark Andrew Lawrence | Toronto | 10/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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. Yes, Mandy is a hyper person and he does try to dominate the proceedings but Sondheim corrects him on some facts -politely but firmly - and in spite of it all you sense that all four look back on their time creating the show as a very special time in their lives and remain enormously proud of their accomplishment."
Julie Jordan Scott | Bakersfield, CA United States | 01/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't watch this DVD without crying. The story is incredibly compelling - I would think even more so to someone who is passionate about creativity and who loves art, musical theatre and exceptional writing.
This Pulitzer Prize winning play is a love story on many different levels.
It is about love for art, love for the product one is creating, love for the moment.
It is about making wrongs right, about coming full circle.
It is about the choices we make and the long lasting and far reaching ramifications of those choices.
Like someone said in an earlier review, this is not anything like "Oklahoma!"
Bernadette Peters is incredible, Mandy Patinkin is passionate - at some points his face takes on such an enraptured quality I forget he ISN'T 19th Century George. I also enjoyed seeing the actor who played "Jim" on "Murphy Brown" as Jules, haughty art critic.
Secondly, the commentary provided by James Lapine (writer, director), Stephen Sondheim, (music and lyrics) and Peters and Patinkin is like getting an inside peek at the process they went through to bring this play to the stage.
I found myself yelling at Sondheim one time, though - as he interrupted right as Peters asked Lapine an especially wonderful question about Barbara Bryne's portrayal of George's mother and Sondheim spoke right over her.
I literally screamed at the TV set.
I couldn't help myself - I played the role in a local production and said to the Director "James Lapine must have an interesting relationship with his mother, he writes such interesting mother roles."
This is a DVD you should watch over and over and over to capture the many nuances and subtleties. And if you are a passionate artist, be sure to have Kleenex handy. You will recognize yourself in the story.