Have you ever watched an acrobat and marveled at the control they have over their bodies? Just sat there and been amazed at how they can move their limbs in ways that you just can’t considering you count every time you don’t trip while walking up the stairs as a massive, massive success?
That’s kind of what it’s like watching Peter Sellers in Being There.
If you’re unfamiliar with Being There here’s a quick synopsis: A simple man named Chance serves as the gardener for an old man in Washington, DC. Chance has never left the house and has the intellect of a child, as well as being able to neither read nor write. One day the old man dies and Chance is cast out, only to find himself taken in by another rich old man who thinks Chance is some sort of nuts-and-bolts genius who’s able to take the most complex situation and reduce it down to its core elements. As part of that Chance winds up meeting the President, being quoted in newspapers he can’t read and making lots of influential friends who don’t realize he’s that slow.
The movie, in all honesty, kind of hits that same joke over and over again. With anyone else playing the role of Chance it likely wouldn’t work nearly as well as it does with Sellers there. He brings it an incredible amount of genuine emotion that other actors simply couldn’t. It turns the character from someone to be pitied into someone you come to respect and root for.
Being There received a bare-bones DVD release back in the early days of the format but now it’s gotten a Deluxe Edition release as well as appearing on Blu-ray. Even so, the only new addition to the disc is a “Memories of Being There” featurette that has interviews with the cast and crew. It’s worth watching but it might not be up to a “Deluxe” labeling.
Still, Being There is a classic film that deserved a better release on disc and I’m glad Warner Bros. has provided just that. Definitely recommended.