BEING THERE: DVD
Chance (Peter Sellers) has spent his entire life tending to the enclosed garden of a wealthy recluse. When the old man dies, Chance discovers the outside world for the first time. Through a series of encounters, he's befriended by dying millionaire Benjamin Rand (Melvyn Douglas) and introduced to the president (Jack Warden), who takes his simpleton philosophies as political profundity. Appointed presidential advisor, Chance remains blissfully unaware of his position. Could he be the next president?
Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
A truly rare curiosity of a film, Being There is a subtle political satire that puts its finger on a sensitive human issue and tickles. It unfolds like a tale of sheer folly, yet while Chance is Being Thereís dopey anti-hero, the film is really a comment on the world he lives in, where no specific promises can be made, the cult of celebrity always looks for something new to cling to, and attention spans are limited to 10-second sound bites. In other words, it's a world where Chance is as much a prophet as Oprah Winfrey.
Peter Sellers, who's always admitted to having no personality in real life, is the perfect choice to play the soulless Chance. He does so with a detatched, dead calmness, encapsulating the man-child with the appearance of good breeding. Nominated for an Oscar, Sellers gives an incredibly nuanced performance, where his idiotic smiles are taken as nods of approval, where his silence mistaken for quiet intellect. Appearances and powerful friends go a long way in society, his character suggests.
Although the DVD comes with bare minimal extras (trailer, biographies, awards), itís excusable given the film's context. Its riddle would be less potent with commentaries or deleted scenes or anything resembling the construct of a film's false reality.
It's not a perfect film, however. That no-one wakes up to Chance's true nature is a stretch, and sexual subplots (especially seeing Shirley MacLaine on a bear-rug) are unnecessary. But itís full of famous scenes, like when Chance clicks his remote control at possible muggers in the hope they will disappear. Its final, most famous scene of all has Chance walking on water, blissfully unaware of his own gravity.
A clever sociopolitcal satire where the world misinterprets everything Chance says from his name onwards, Being There is a rare bird - an absurd satire that shows us how easily we believe in whatever we want to.
Published May 23, 2002
Email this article
You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia
BEING THERE: DVD (PG)
CAST: Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden, Richard A. Dysart
DIRECTOR: Hal Ashby
RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Theatrical trailer, cast and crew biographies, Awards
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video
DVD RELEASE: February 4, 2002