Being There

Directed By: Hal Ashby Starring: Peter Sellers

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Performance

A little gardener as bodhisattva

on 5/6/2012

When I bought my elderly parents their first VCR, I had BEING THERE in the deck ready to play when I hooked it up for them(the second movie was "Harvey"). FORREST GUMP(the movie only)hints at the essence of Chance the gardener when Gump is running, & doesn't know why everybody's following him. Graham Chapman's Brian Cohn in LIFE OF BRIAN doesn't know why and doesn't want any followers. Chance is the true idiot savant who doesn't know or care that people are hanging on his every word. Both movie and film are gentle, peaceful looks at modern society, the media, and the messianic fixations therein. This was the next-to-last film for both Melvyn Douglas and Peter Sellers, and is also the first film I can remember that finishes with outtakes, as Sellers busts up trying to get out a line. BEING THERE is a wonderful film with a wonderful cast, and it is as deep as you want it to be. Take it at face value as the story of a man who is misunderstood by everyone, and just enjoy it. After Jerzy Kosinski's tortured youth, that he could come up with this still amazes me. Read More

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Product Overview

A sheltered simpleton who only knows what he's watched on TV becomes a presidential advisor.

Specifications

Studio Warner
SKU 209888542
UPC 883929037094
UPC 14 00883929037094
Format DVD
Release Date 4/28/2009
Keywords
Character Study
Classic
Politics
Recommended
Satire
Theatrical Release
Wise Fools
Editors Note
Note BEING THERE is based on Jerzy Kosinski's short comic novel about a simpleton, Chance (Peter Sellers), raised in isolation whose only education came from watching TV. When he's forced out of the house where he worked as a gardener by the death of the wealthy recluse who raised him from infancy, he's fortuitously struck by a limousine carrying Eve Rand (Shirley MacLaine), the wife of a wealthy industrialist. He's mistaken, because of his well-tailored suits, for a man of means and taken to dinner with her husband, Ben Rand (Melvyn Douglas). There, as Chauncy Gardner, his blank affect is taken for seriousness and his literal pronouncements about gardening for metaphoric economic predictions. Soon he's meeting the president (Jack Warden) and becoming a star on TV--where he's a natural.^Kosinski was well known to be personally fascinated by the power of television. In BEING THERE, which he adapted for the screen himself, he presents a comic fable about a man whose entire sense of reality came from watching television. Sellers is marvelous as the always-deadpan cipher in whom everyone he meets sees whatever it is they need to see. Shirley MacLaine, Jack Warden, and Melvyn Douglas give outstanding performances in this biting satire directed by Hal Ashby.
Memorable Quotes
Quote "I like to watch."--Chauncy Gardner (Peter Sellers) to Eve Rand (Shirley MacLaine)
Reviews
Entertainment Weekly "...Deadpan farce....Sellers in his greatest performance..." -- Rating: A- 01/15/1999 pp.64-5
New York Times "...A stately, beautifully acted satire....Sellers never strikes a false note..." 12/20/1979 p.C20
Chicago Sun-Times "...A rare and subtle bird that finds its tone and sticks with it. It has the appeal of an ingenious intellectual game..." 05/25/1997 p.5
Premiere "[Chance] is a cipher both funny and frightening, making utter vacancy look like Zen inscrutability." 04/01/2004 p.64
Empire 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] strange, evocative swan song whose charm is still strong after 30 years....It's an uncanny part for Sellers, who by repute was an empty vessel into which characters were poured." 03/01/2009
Total Film 4 stars out of 5 -- "Peter Sellers redeemed himself with one last major turn in BEING THERE....This is an exceptional comedy..." 04/01/2009
Directors
Hal Ashby
Actors
Peter Sellers
Cast & Crew
Richard Basehart - Star
Peter Sellers - Star
Shirley MacLaine - Star
Jack Warden - Star
Richard Dysart - Star
Melvyn Douglas - Star
Charles Schram - Makeup
Andrew Braunsberg - Producer
Jerzy Kosinski - Writer
Don Zimmerman - Editor
Robert Benton - Set Designer
James Schoppe - Art Director
Michael Haller - Production Designer
Dianne Schroeder - Director of Photography
Frank Westmore - Makeup
Caleb Deschanel - Cinematographer
Johnny Mandel - Composer
Hal Ashby - Director
Technical Info
Catalog ID 1000042577
UPC 00883929037094
Number of Discs 1
Original Language English
Available Audio Tracks English
Awards
Name Melvyn Douglas
Award Category Best Supporting Actor
Award Status Winner
Award Year 1979
Award Giver Academy Awards
Features
DVD, Deluxe Edition, Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Product Attributes
Video Format DVD

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A little gardener as bodhisattva on May 06, 2012

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