Being There

Being There

Adapted from the novel by Jerzy Kosinski and directed by Hal Ashby, Being There is a Shakespearean comedy of errors meets a Buddhist meditation on emptiness. Being There depicts the story of a gardener named Chance (Peter Sellers) who grows up in the townhouse of a wealthy man in Washington, D.C. For reasons that remain unexplained, Chance has had virtually no contact with the outside world and no social interaction for his entire life. Apart from his limited relationship with Louise the maid (Ruth Attaway), Chance’s cultural and social education is derived entirely from what he watches on the television sets provided by his employer. Chance’s situation takes a fantastic turn when he is emancipated from the house and, due to a well timed cough, is introduced as “Chauncey Gardinier”. The company present in this moment instantly begins to conjure extravagant notions of who this new and exotic man might be. With the wit and charm that we would expect from Peter Sellers, the rest of the film plays out as the blank screen of Chance the Gardner is seen as everything from a businessman down on his luck to a possible presidential candidate. Emptiness indeed