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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the Best
There's no 'probably' about this film. This is the best piece of acting ever by Peter Sellers. Best known for his roles in The Goons and Pink Panther series, Sellers outshines them all in this film. It wasn't very well publicised when new, and remains unknown to many. If you like slapstick - forget it. If you want funny voices - forget it. But if you want to see...
Published on 11 Jun. 2003 by Wil Ames

versus
39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Deluxe Edition? Bluff Package!
I don't intend to question the movie, which is excellent indeed. My rating is based on the fact, that this so-called "Deluxe Edition" is only a hoax, a bluff package.

The only bonus material are the recollections of Melvyn Douglas' granddaughter (16 minutes runtime, intercut with scenes from the movie) and the trailer.

Sorry, that's not luxurious,...
Published on 20 May 2009 by coma


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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the Best, 11 Jun. 2003
By 
Wil Ames (Buckinghamshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Being There [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
There's no 'probably' about this film. This is the best piece of acting ever by Peter Sellers. Best known for his roles in The Goons and Pink Panther series, Sellers outshines them all in this film. It wasn't very well publicised when new, and remains unknown to many. If you like slapstick - forget it. If you want funny voices - forget it. But if you want to see (possibly) the best British actor ever, in a starring role in a film that gives credit to the true professional that he was, then Buy, buy, buy...
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine, understated comedy, 10 Feb. 2003
By 
Emre Yigit (Ankara, Turkey) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Being There [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
I first saw the film when it came out, and it stuck in my memory. Not your typical Sellars (i.e. neither the slapstick of the Pink Panther nor the so-tedious-it-was-funny of The Party), the film is a comedy of manners more than anything else.
In brief, the story revolves around a certain Chauncy "Gardner" (Sellers) who, upon his employer's death, finds himself thrust out into the rude world. A simple man, with no skills to recommend him but gardening, his life outside the estate in which he has lived since his birth starts with a car accident (involving Maclaine) and progresses gently to the point where he is being discussed as a Presidential candidate.
Many fine scenes, some unforgettable lines ("I like to watch.") and an interesting final walk.
Heartily recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars strange parallel universe, 20 Feb. 2011
By 
Mr. James West "Nebulous" (Aberdeen, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I had never seen this film, but hearing a friend talk about it I decided to buy it and have just watched it.

The film is a strange unsettling story, about a simple man who works as a gardener, and whose main pleasure in life apart from gardening is watching TV.

After the old man whose garden he works in dies, he lands up out in the big bad world, where his gardening related anecdotes and ability to feed back to people what they want to hear, has him feted as a financial guru. One word of warning, this is a 12 rated film, but there is a sex scene that made uncomfortable viewing with a couple of 14 year olds. Peter Sellers is startlingly good as the main character, just the year before he died, but there is also a strong supporting cast - he certainly doesn't have it all to himself. I though Shirley MacLaine was very good as someone who tried to connect with Sellers character on an emotional level, something he was incapable of. The film was long at 130 minutes, my daughters thought it was too long, and it was quite slowly paced which helped to make its point.

The picture was presented in 1.85:1 effectively filling a wide-screen TV, and was a bit of a mixed bag to be honest. The colours are good, and have a look of the 1970's, but the focus is a bit soft at times and lacking in the detail we have come to expect from blu-ray. So its not reference material, but it is never unpleasant to watch.

Sound quality is ok , the dialogue comes across well - and it isn't a film that depends on a huge soundscape. It can be a little flat, but hearing the speech is always important to me and it certainly achieves that.

So overall this is a key cinema moment that is well worth watching. A great role from Sellers, much less slapstick and straighter than we are used to from him - but I defy you to watch the film without feeling uneasy about how society and the media treats people. It isn't a classic comedy, it's much more complicated than that, and well worth 4 stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magically simplistic, 5 Jan. 2011
By 
A friend had given me a bad vhs version of this film about 20 years ago and since then I have been trying to find this film on sale. At last!
The film:
A hugely talented production team tells an incredibly rich story. No special effects - just wonderful acting kept me glued to the screen. The straight-faced comedy is something quite unique - I never thought riding in a lift could be so funny. Peter Sellers had tried to convince the producer to remove the out-takes running behind the final credits as it would break the spell of the film. Although I love out-takes, I agree with Mr Sellers here.
The BlueRay:
After having watched the film on my bad VHS copy several times this was like a short sighted person wearing glasses for the first time and looking across a mountain range. The images and colour are clear and crisp - a fantastic job has been done in creating this bluray so hats off to those responsible. I have watched lots of newer, blockbuster films that cannot match the quality of this recording. The audio track is also well produced although this is not the type of film to listen to at 130 db making the walls shake.
If you can appreciate a subtle humour and would like to watch a truly remarkable film then this is an absolute must.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle, enigmatic and highly entertaining..., 16 Jan. 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Being There [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
Seeing this film for the first time, 25 years on from its original release, two things really hit home. Firstly it's very good - the acting and direction are excellent, it's funny, it's a clever story, and it makes you think. All pretty good credentials for any film. Secondly - and here's where its true brilliance lies - its underlying message hasn't dated at all and, if anything, is more relevant and effective than it was when it was made.
And the message itself? Superficially, it's an exploration of how, in a world dominated by the fleeting demands of mass media, someone with absolutely no knowledge at all can become a megastar and, once established as such, can demand respect and gain power far beyond their capabilities. And, beneath that... well, that's where the fun starts. Is it an exploration of the shallowness of western society? Is it a study of people's weaknesses & needs? Is it a religious allegory? Is it, in terms of most of the characters, a huge tragedy? Is it all or none of these?
The ending, which generates much debate about its "meaning" - is he walking on water in a messianic way or is he simply so stupid that he doesn't realise he's walking, by accident, on a submerged jetty? - is quite brilliant as are the final "over the titles" cuts of Sellers being unable to deliver his deadpan lines without laughing at them, leaving you with the uncomfortable feeling that the "joke" might be on you in trying to read too much into what's on offer here. In the end, of course, it's what you want it to be and that's the whole point of the story - we make people, situations and films themselves into what we want them to be not what they necessarily are. Subtle, enigmatic and, above all, highly entertaining.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not The Pink Panther, 1 Aug. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Being There [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
Peter Sellers was nominated for an Academy Award for this, his penultimate film.
As it turned out, The Terrible Revenge of Fu Manchu, was his final film. Really, this should have been his last film -- a beautiful testament to an extraordinary career.
The film is a snapshot of the life of Mr Chancey, played by Sellers.
Chancey is clearly backward and yet manages to convince the other characters that he is some sort of genius and prophet.
Seller's portrayal of Chancey is understated and quite brilliant, the end sequence is startling and revelatory.
This is the greatest film you've never seen.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Deluxe Edition? Bluff Package!, 20 May 2009
I don't intend to question the movie, which is excellent indeed. My rating is based on the fact, that this so-called "Deluxe Edition" is only a hoax, a bluff package.

The only bonus material are the recollections of Melvyn Douglas' granddaughter (16 minutes runtime, intercut with scenes from the movie) and the trailer.

Sorry, that's not luxurious, but simply ridiculous. Thanks Warner Bros. for another rip-off.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Being There: a review, 24 Aug. 2008
By 
Mr. J. Griffiths "Jonny Griffiths" (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Being There [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
'Being There' is a film Peter Sellers made right at the end of his career. Whatever you make of this troubled man's life, I think you will agree that the role he plays here, of Chance the gardener, represents a brave exit from the glitzy world of movies. Indeed, Being There could be seen as a satire on the celebrity industry of which Peter Sellers was so much a part.

Chance is a man who has never grown up. Employed for the whole of his existence by a rich man in Washington who has just died, Chance's life has been dominated by gardening, television and little else. His employer's huge house, a home that Chance has never left for a moment, is being sold, and Chance finds himself out on the street, and hopelessly ill-equipped for this encounter with tough reality. He is bemused to discover that unwelcome events, like a mugging, cannot be banished by his television remote. But he has a stroke of luck - he is knocked down by the car of an influential businessman, and he and his wife take Chance under their wing. There is something about Chance that endears him to his hosts - his lack of front, his simple way of relating to others, and his lack of competitive edge. Nobody quite knows what to make of him, Chance the gardener, or Chauncey Gardner as he becomes known - nobody can make out "where he's coming from." Rumours start to spread - his careful advice over what to do in your garden ("Prepare for growth in the spring") is mis-interpreted as a take on the economy from a financial guru. The media feverishly search for information on Chance's past, but there is none to be found. He is thrust into a milieu where he is completely different from anyone else, and is thus completely refreshing. His statements are always literal, which means that no-one believes him. "Are you writing a book?" asks one reporter. "I can't write," replies Chance. "Of course, who of us has time to write these days," replies the hack. But Chance is serious - he can't write, he's never learnt. Everything he says is misunderstood, despite it being completely truthful - and these misunderstandings always seem to make other people happy. Chance is invited onto people's television screens, and his years of watching have prepared him perfectly, for he appears totally at home on the other side of the camera. He has been off society's radar for fifty years and so society cannot get a handle on him.

I think 'Being There' is a deeply spiritual film. Chance is a pure soul, forcibly thrust into an alien world with no defence mechanisms available to him. All he has is his intense love of plants (alongside a keen addiction to television) and somehow this saves him and those around him. His `otherness' is in a way Christ-like. Christ was a threat to those in authority, and Chance is too, in a quiet and puzzling way.
Chance fools the world by telling the truth. In our society, we learn to lie to those beneath us, and to allow those above us to lie to us - if we play it any other way, we are in trouble. Chance just doesn't live those rules, and the world senses that the rules he lives by are the ones that they really want, deep down. There is nothing explicitly religious in this film, but his early life has been that of a hermit monk, an experience that has given him a self that is extraordinarily self-sufficient. Maybe Chance has glimpsed the Kingdom of Heaven by tending a walled garden for forty years, and maybe through him the world glimpses that glimpse.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fitting tribute to Sellers, 20 Dec. 2004
By 
Andy Millward (Tiptree, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Being There [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
Strange as it sounds, I saw Being There in Salt Lake City, Utah, in summer 1980. I then came out the cinema and bought a newspaper which told me of the tragically early death of Peter Sellers. There can be no finer tribute to Sellers than the final moments of this film: a voice-over conversation as the powers suggest the dim-witted Chauncey Gardiner (a.k.a. Chance the gardener) should be the next president, the character finds himself walking on water.
This is a beautiful performance from Sellers, a subtle characterisation that communicates the simplicity of Gardiner's thought processes to the audience but allowing the high-powered elite around him to interpret his slow and ponderous words of wisdom about gardening as political allegory bordering on genius. This takes a rare acting talent.
The message of Being There about the how superficial America has become could not be more relevant. Kosinski's sparkling screenplay brings out the triumph of style over substance like few others. As Louise in the film (the maid who once cared for Chance) says: "it could only happen to a white man!"
If you want a moral, it could well be that if you want to succeed, ensure that you wear a good suit at all times!
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real presence, 27 Dec. 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Being There [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
'Being There', starring Peter Sellers in perhaps the best performance of his life (he was nominated for the Academy Award for this), and adapted from Jerzy Kosinski's brief but rich novella, is one of the great, under-rated films that fill video-store shelves, rarely to be rented or purchased, but holding great rewards for those who do.
Perhaps it was in thinking of `The Tao of Pooh' and `The Te of Piglet' that the image of Chauncey Gardiner (Chance, the Gardener) came to mind, as someone who is as close to pure being and a human being can be. Unspoilt by intellect, education, or experience of society, Chance the Gardener has been raised in a protective environment where he main concern is for plants, other living things coming close to simple being, and for a mindless attentiveness to the television that washes over him like a halo, providing him with sufficient information to make others around him believe he is wise and knowledgeable.
In the film we come upon Chance as 'the old man' has died, and the lawyers are coming in to close the house. As a man apart from society, there is no record of Chance even existing (which becomes important later). He is a mystery from the beginning, made all the more mysterious by his completely innocent, non-evasive manner. This is rare for Washington, D.C.!
Having been turned out of the house, Chance begins his partial discovery of the real world. He experiences hatred, deprivation, and solitude for the first time, but all of this leaves little impact upon him. He continues his solitary journey until stopped by a store display of television sets, at which time he backs up to watch himself being displayed from the video camera, and is injured by a passing car belonging to Benjamin Rand, wealthy financier and kingmaker. Mrs. Rand is in the car (played astutely by Shirley MacLaine), and insists on taking Chance (who, while taking his first alcoholic drink, garbles the words to the degree that she mishears his name, becomes at this point Chauncey) back to the Rand estate, where doctors and nurses are in attendance at the sick-near-dying bed of her husband Benjamin.
Chauncey floats effortlessly through this world. Without apprehension and without an image to protect and project, he is simply himself, and in so being, becomes a mirror to project the hopes of those around him. While he speaks in terms of gardening almost exclusively, others, from Mrs. Rand to the President of the United States (who ends up quoting him in a speech) believe he is a master of metaphor, and, much like a mystical text, are quick to assign their own meanings to his words.
Because Chauncey is without affectation, well-mannered and, above all, a curious listener, people are charmed by him. The policeman outside the White House respond when he reports a sick tree in the park. The Russian ambassador responds when Chauncey laughs at his Russian jokes. The Rands respond because they both need, above all, hope. Chauncey becomes a cipher for all.
Chance is a mystery. The President quotes him in a speech, after meeting him at the Rand estate. But who is he? The CIA and the FBI cannot find any information on him. Thus, both decide he must be an ex-agent who has 'wiped the slate clean'.
Ultimately, it is unclear, purposefully so, if Chance is in fact mentally deficient or spiritually enhanced. The disturbing message of the film and novel is that even a little learning can be a soul-destroying force; ignorance is bliss, and enables one to walk on water when one doesn't know one can't.
Will Chance succeed, by Chance? Will the Randian consortium in fact propel him into the Presidency? Would you, the viewer, want him as President?
Filmed largely at the Biltmore Estate (pictured as if it were in the centre of the District of Columbia), this is a visually interesting film as well as an intriguing story, with superb acting performances and an ambiguous moral at the end. The very last words of the film are
`Life is a state of mind.'
Is it really? You decide.
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