Being There


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Television.
Unbeknownst to me, that’s the common theme of some of the best movies I’ve seen over the last few months. All of them explore the relationship, and in many cases, the dystopia that we have created in television. It didn’t really hit me until last night, as I was in the middle of Peter Sellers’
If you haven’t seen it,
Although I loved Strangelove, Lolita, and the Pink Panther films, I think Peter Sellers portrayal of Chauncy Gardener was his most brilliant role. It’s a darker comedy than I’ve seen in a long time.

To the dying billionaire, he’s a perfect heir. To the newspaper reporters trying to track down his past, he becomes the perfect mystery. To the lonely billionaire’s wife, the perfect lover. And to the President, the perfect inspiration and advisor.

Last night, watching it again (I think I’ve seen it two or three times), I was struck by two things in the movie that are extremely powerful. The first is that Chauncy Gardener is not afraid of anything. Every interaction that he has with the new or the unknown is met without fear in any way. From being threatened by armed kids in DC, to having his leg crushed between two cars parking, Chauncy is entirely without fear.

The second is that he doesn’t want anything from anyone in the movie, and I think that has something to do with his appeal. The television feeds/influences/animates Chauncy, and Chauncy feeds/influences/animates the people around him. However he is over and over again offered generous opportunities by the people around him, and every time he turns them down.
He turns them down because he’s an idiot, of course. But his lack of desire becomes incredibly appealing to everyone he comes in contact with.

There aren’t enough complimentary things to say about
As you can imagine, I’ve recently read a lot of other people’s opinions about the movie, and I like this one the best, especially the analysis of the ending.