Blu-ray Review: BEING THERE

Warner Home Video
Release date: February 3, 2009
MSRP: $28.99

Director: Hal Ashby
Stars: Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Richard Dysart, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden

Ignorance is bliss.

That phrase pretty much sums up Chance, Peter Sellers’ character in the film Being There. Chance is a rather clueless gardner that loses his home when his caregiver dies. While wandering the streets of Washington D.C., he is hit by Eve Rand (Shirley MacLaine), the wife of an ailing wealth businessman.

Eve brings Chance back to her home, where he unwittingly charms and impresses not only the Rands, but their many powerful friends, including the President (played well by Jack Warden).

I should take a moment to mention that Chance spends ALL of his time either gardening or watching television. These two things are the source of his sage advice. He offers simple statements that seem to strike home with those that seek his advice.

While there is certainly satire in Being There, the film is a lot more. It has some surprisingly touching moments as well. Eve’s husband Ben is dying and finds comfort in the outlook of Chance. The scenes between the two of them (especially Ben’s final scene) are powerful and can’t help but touch your heart.

Video:
Being There is presented in 1080p with a ratio of 1.85:1 with the VC-1 codec. The overall quality is pretty good, there is some noticeable removal of digital noise, but not so much that it detracts from the overall viewing experience. To be honest, I was expecting more issues, but the color is good and the blacks are strong.
Just short of a massive restoration, this is as good as it is going to be.

Sound
This is pretty basic. There are two soundtracks offered, single channel Mono and TrueHD. Both sound pretty good, with the THD doing a slightly better job of removing hiss. But even the Mono is mostly clear of said hiss.

Extras:
Memories From Being There clocks in at slightly under 15 minutes. Ileana Douglas, granddaughter of Melvin Douglas (Ben Rand) providing quite a bit of insight on not only her grandfather, but on the production itself. Douglas and Sellers knew each others for years prior to the film. Apparently it was Sellers that recommended Douglas for the role. This is an interesting piece that I wish was longer.

Many consider Being There to be Seller’s finest film. I honestly don’t see it. I agree it is a smart, funny film, but just don’t consider it one of the all time greats. That said, this release looks great and should be THE version to own if Being There is to be in your library.

Order Being There on Blu-ray from Amazon.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.