The Relevance of Being There (1979)
‘First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.’
This is just some of the profound wisdom, or basic gardening advice, that propels a simple minded man named Chance (Peter Sellers) to the very top of American political society in Hal Ashby's satirical gem, Being There (1979).
When it was first released many saw it as a timely remark on the rise of Ronald Reagan. Now, over 40 years later, it's proven to be more poignant than ever. The rise of Trump has no doubt given the film new meaning, yet what makes Being There relevant today isn't so much the image of an absurd figure in the White House, but rather its depiction of the society that put him there.
In an age where we increasingly depend on soundbites for information, and with a momentous presidential election fast approaching, there's never been a better time to add Being There to your watchlist.
Since as long as he can remember Chance has lived and worked in the same household, following the same routine in the same surroundings. A gardener and a recluse, his understanding of the outside world is almost entirely shaped by the images he sees on TV. But when his benefactor suddenly dies, Chance is evicted and left to fend for himself on the streets of Washington D.C., lost and confused, armed with little more than a briefcase, a bowler hat and a remote control.
*The way in which we consume and process information
*The prejudice of the American Dream
*Chancey represents what politicians are not
*Ending makes point about the relativity of truth
*We are constantly surrounded by infobytes, constantly trying to be persuaded, with mediums vying for credibility, the result is the need to think critically, and Being There shows a society that is incapable of doing so
*Soundbites of information
* Chance's understanding of the world is based on what he sees on the TV, which has become a reality for modern day society.
'I know it's important to stay informed of all the latest events but, well I find there's so much to assimilate it can be quite muddling at times.'
Commercials through the film provide small soundbites of information, and Chance essentially does the same
Chance becomes marketable by the end, which results in him being considered for the presidency.
'reasonable, intense, sense of humour'
'you don't play games with words to protect yourself, you're direct'
'as long as the roots of industry remain firmly planted in the national soil, the economic prospects are undoubtedly sunny.'
'all you've got to be is white in America to get what you want'
'the gift of being natural'