Peter Sellers has always been a curious figure.
Imitated, parodied, celebrated, overrated… there’s a lot of views on the man immortalised as Inspector Clouseau. Seen by many as one of the very great talents, comic and otherwise, his off as well as on screen shenanigans is too the stuff of Hollywood legend.
Not always acquiring the greatest reputation, one flick that hasn’t significantly contributed to Sellers’ oeuvre was the 17th century pirate film he made, or didn’t quite; the very subject of this new documentary centred on a relatively obscure corner of cinema.
A production as outlined plagued by mishap and misfortune from start to finish, here the filmmakers reunite after decades to debrief and unpack just what and how much went wrong. The Ghost of Peter Sellers’ creators doubling as interview subjects throughout, their and very largely their account(s) form the basis of this retelling.
Much of the archival footage first and foremost is a joy to behold. There is something supremely, intrinsically amusing, and intendedly so, about watching the cast, in the throes of any which crisis, wandering about the sets in none too common garb. Recounting the events surrounding the tempestuous production, The Ghost of Peter Sellers is as much as anything else a cautionary tale for filmmakers who have winced at like affairs that have long survived in infamy.
Most interesting when covering the man himself, the documentary diverges in lengths from chronicling the filmic fallout to examine the much debated and apparently detested comedian. A combination of classic footage and interviews alongside accounts of Sellers’ own films and chosen roles proffering ideas of just who he was and what contributed to this contentious if inarguably distinctive comic talent, these tranches are the most endearing for their uncommon and in respects hitherto unsung insight into the still beloved performer.
The Ghost of Peter Sellers screens as part of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival on July 19 at 8:45PM at Cinema Nova