Life is more than just “Being There”

being_therePeter Sellers missed an Academy Award by 30 seconds just a year before his death. The movie: 1979’s “Being There.” The role: Chauncey Gardiner, whose name implies both his professional and symbolic nature. The reason he lost: the bloopers in the closing titles five seconds after the end of the movie.

What is so disappointing about these stupid bloopers (they might, might have been funny out of context but never belonged anywhere in this movie) is that they completely take away from the stunning ending we just witnessed. We are trying to grasp with what we’ve just seen, and we have so many questions.

So, why jump straight into this pointless sequence? Supposedly some versions omit the sequence replacing it with white noise instead. Wish I could have seen that one. Peter Sellers was the most infuriated by the injustice both to his character and person (of course he wanted the award). He pleaded for its removal, but the producers are apparently smarter than the rest of us.

Anyway, let’s dive into all that was right with this movie. Sellers is brilliant as Chance. He is forthright and there for us all just when we need him. His innocence is what the audience loves, agrees with and reacts to.

“Being There” takes the old adage of the simple man that everyone believes is a genius through his use of unintentional gardening metaphors and exceedingly loyal agreement. His innocence is so beloved that people want it to be the answer to all the problems of the world.

Chance is a man of TV. He learned all he knows about life from that TV. He has no idea how to act in the outside world other than what he learned from TV. Looking at this concept, I am ashamed that television is a representation of our society. An innocent outsider would unfortunately draw the wrong perceptions from our society through today’s MTV and such (thankfully Chance wasn’t soaking that garbage up).



Chance leaves home for the big wide world. Immediately representative of Magritte’s famous bowler hat paintings especially “Golconde” and “Decalcomania.” I loved the images of him walking around D.C.



Chance exists throughout the film to give us the hope of innocence and freedom in expression. All turn to Chance for comfort, yet no one knows where he came from.

We want Chance in our lives for support, for comfort, for company. 

The ending is one of the most magnificent I’ve seen in years. So spell-binding and beautiful, and mainly unexpected. An answer to our questions. A realization of our worst fears and greatest hope. For it was more than chance, Chauncey existed for a reason where just “Being There” was enough to give us all comfort. 

Great quotes at the end:

  • “I have no use for those on welfare, no patience whatsoever, but if I am to be honest with myself, I must admit that they have no use for me either.”
  • “I do not regret having political differences with men that I respect. I do regret however, that our philosophies kept us apart.”

Reminds me of: 

  • Stranger Than Fiction
  • Elf
  • The Truman Show
  • And any movie dealing with reality

~ by tpodge on February 21, 2009.

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