I first watched this DVD more than a decade ago, and again about five years ago. Last night, I watched it for the third time. It gets better every time, I don’t know why; but I know I’ll watch it again and again in the days to come.
Streisand herself had a part in writing, directing and producing this Timeless: A Live Concert, with the music arranged and directed by Marvin Hamlisch, best-known for The Way We Were, title song recorded by Streisand for the 1973 movie she starred with Robert Redford. (This is one of my favourite songs in the concert, together with Cry Me A River, As Time Goes By, Alfie, Evergreen, On A Clear Day, People, I Believe and Somewhere.)
The concert is set up like a play in two acts, opening with a dramatisation of her first amateur recording session in 1955 and tracing her career from her club days to Broadway and movies. Act two contains a number of Streisand’s duets amidst skits about time and timelessness.
There is an excellent choice of songs in line with the theme: about her forgotten recording (Alfie), about her feelings for her father (who died when she was only 15 months old) with two songs (Papa, Can You Hear Me? and A Piece of Sky – both from Yentl), about how fragile the world is (At The Same Time), about how the world can become a better place (I Believe), about her collaboration with Stephen Sondheim (Send In The Clowns); the duets (Every Time You Hear/ Auld lang Syne with the 13,000-strong audience, and video montage with Judy Garland in Happy Days Are Here Again & Get Help, Barry Gibb in Guilty, Bryan Adams in I Finally Found Someone, Celine Dion in Tell Him, Neil Diamond in You Don’t Send Me Flowers and even Frank Sinatra in I Got A Crush On You).
I find it most heartwarming the clip of Barbra Streisand singing The Carpenters’ Sing with her then 5-year-old son Jason Gould. (Jason is her only son from her first marriage to Elliot Gould; she and her second husband James Brolin (father of American actor Josh Brolin whom I remember from No Country for Old Men and who recently starred in Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War) are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. Both Jason and James are in the audience and join her on stage at the finale/New Year (new millennium) countdown. (A side note: Jason recently recorded a duet, How Deep Is The Ocean, with his mother in Partners.) (Other duets – I Got A Crush On You with Frank Sinatra, I Finally Found Someone with Bryan Adams and Barry Gibb – are also in the Partners album.)
There are many, many more songs – all sung with the clarity, soaring voice and penetrating timbre that is distinctively Barbra Streisand. There is also much footage of old newspaper settings, photographs, albums, movies, concert tours, recording sessions at the studios, TV appearances, her acting and directing in movies.