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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.66:1
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  • French: Dolby Digital Mono
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Cast/crew biographies
Being There
Warner Bros./Warner Bros. . R4 . COLOR . 130 mins . PG . NTSC

  Feature
Contract

Irony is everywhere in these strange times. From real life seemingly imitating the cinema screen in the form of September 11, to the ludicrously expensive, bare-bones Region 1 DVD you bought two weeks ago, getting released locally as a budget two-disc uber edition. Although the last one isn't really irony, that's Murphy's Law isn't it? Let us not also forget the irony of Alanis Morrisette selling about two albums a year not all too long after said 'Ironic' single was released.

How then is irony relevant to Being There? Consider Peter Sellers. Here is a man who has made a living out of portraying some of the most hilarious characters imaginable, yet for what is certainly one of his most subtle, effortless and most dramatic roles, it is also arguably one of his most strikingly memorable.

Being There is the tale of Chance, an extremely simple man who has been nursed throughout his entire life by television. His knowledge of the world is extremely limited, and consists only of that distorted information contained within this exaggerated commercial universe. He lives and works as a gardener in the expansive mansion of a bedridden elderly man, and is largely cared for by the live in maid, however meagre, his only source of parental care.

After the elderly man passes away and the maid leaves for a new job, Chance soon finds himself in a situation that he simply does not grasp the full understanding of. He is invariably forced out onto the streets, a place that he has never been before, looking for someone to take care of him and employ him as a gardener. In an innocent turn of events, Chance soon finds himself as a guest of one of the country's most powerful men. Whilst staying as a guest, Chance soon begins to cause a huge emotional, and even political impact on everyone who surrounds him, as they all misinterpret his simple behaviour to be that of a cool and calculating genius, twisting literally everything he says into metaphors and likewise life theories.

On the surface, it could indeed be interpreted as a sort of original Forrest Gump. However instead of being a grandiose study of American history, Being There is much more of a subtle statement on the insecurities, imperfections and inhibitions of people in even the most powerful positions.

Whilst it is never really a howling comedy experience, Being There contains more than enough biting satire. Peter Sellers is simply outstanding in the role of Chance, and whilst his mannerisms are ever so slight, he manages to provide a continually captivating presence that helps keep the films large amount of spacious atmosphere all the more enthralling.

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

Well, Warner have done it again, bringing Being There to our PAL market in the good ol' Never The Same Colour. However, to be quite honest, I expected much worse. Sure, the transfer does display some rather dull colours, however the nature of the film hardly ever rises above the subtle browns and mahogany reds of the spacious mansion the film is largely set in.

There is an overall 'cold' feeling to the majority of the cinematography, and as a result, it does not really suffer as heavily from an NTSC transfer as many other films might have. On the part of cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, his work comes across infinitely more complimentary on DVD. The framing of each shot has been so carefully thought out, that to crop the image for VHS has been and always will be a severe injustice to the film's presentation.

Given the film's late '70s production period, the image is quite clean. There were, as to be expected, quite a few dirt and scratch artefacts occasionally present, yet it is certainly as close to perfect as you will most likely find. However, apart from the NTSC transfer, this is really the only thing worth faulting.

Is mono worth complaining about? Well, yes, more often than not it is. However, since the film is so heavily reliant on dialogue, it really doesn't make too much of a difference. Since the dialogue is mostly clear and free of distortion, then I have nothing to really complain about here.

Same sad old story in terms of extras. Some modestly detailed information about the cast and crew involved are on offer and besides that, a theatrical trailer that makes one lean more to the feeling that Being There is more of a comedy than anything else.

Being There is an extremely poetic movie that delivers a very powerful experience in the form of the subtle, yet extremely human performances contained within. Certainly not the least of its assets also remains within the splendidly careful cinematography by Caleb Deschanel. It certainly compares extremely favourably when stacked up against a lot of recent, likewise material, and any self-respecting Peter Sellers fan should definitely look into this very decent presentation of what is arguably one of his finest moments.


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  •   And I quote...
    "Any self-respecting Peter Sellers fan should definitely look into this very decent presentation of what is arguably one of his finest moments. "
    - Ben Pollock
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Omni SL-P2000KD
    • TV:
          Palsonic 71cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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