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3,760 Ratings

Being There

Directed by Hal Ashby
United States, 1979
Comedy, Drama


An aging gardener, filled only with knowledge of the world he has learned from television, rises by accident into the game of politics. The man is soon presented as a possible Presidential candidate although no one knows his true background.

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Being There Directed by Hal Ashby

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

1980 | Nominee: Best Actor in a Leading Role

1980 | Winner: Best Actor in a Supporting Role

National Film Preservation Board

2015 | Winner: National Film Registry

The film has been in the conversation of late as one of the handful of films earmarked for predicting the present era of pundits discovering wisdom in incoherence, though it plays less successfully as satire – it’s a rather ham-handed one – than as a fairytale, something the much bickered-over ending seems to recognize. It’s as timeless as the comfort of believing one’s political foes to be stupid rather than really venal.
March 31, 2017
Many have called both the book and the film a premonition of the Reagan revolution, which came to power, in part, on the strength of Reagan’s ability to communicate on TV. The deathlike air of the film certainly connotes the end of something big, while the humor comments on the timeless human desire to be deceived by something that sounds good. These opposing elements give Being There an enduring complexity, although sometimes it’s too bleak in its outlook to be laugh-out-loud funny.
March 30, 2017
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Elegiac and yet ruefully funny, Hal Ashby’s Being There is at once a profoundly philosophical fable about how we become truly human only in the face of our ineluctable mortality, as well as an incensed satire intent on skewering the mass media’s unhealthy sway among the corridors of wealth and power.
March 29, 2017
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What are people saying?

  • Filipe F. Coutinho's rating of the film Being There

    Loved the subtlety of this gentle satire, but failed to connect to the emotional thread Ashby crafted, and had some trouble believing Chance's "garden philosophy" and how it impacted those around him. The constant misinterpretation became tiring. Still, much love for Sellers' performance and Caleb Deschanel's photography. It is, however, Melvyn Douglas who completely steals the show.

  • VincentVendetta's rating of the film Being There

    I guess I'm supposed to be charmed and amused by Peter Sellers acting like a bumbling idiot for two hours, spewing the most optimistic vague bullshit and social commentary so inoffensive and paper thin that it can be used by almost anybody. Both Being There and Hal Ashby don't say anything, but that's why people find them interesting. It is the Forest Gump of the New Hollywood. But hey, that last shot was nice!

  • Warren Spratley's rating of the film Being There

    Regardless of how varying the interpretations may be, I have trouble when a film ventures 2 advance by way of allegory alone. The intention of each scene is essentially the same: Chance draws another character toward some kind of emotional &/or political clarity, however delusional. Such situational repetition quickly becomes tedious. Admittedly, this seems 2 be a problem w/ the source material; I'm no Kosiński fan.

  • Ethan's rating of the film Being There

    Peter Sellers gives the performance of his career in this extraordinary film from the very underrated Hal Ashby who delivered an excellent film about the impact of television and fame that is even more relevant now than it was when it was first released.

  • HSBilly's rating of the film Being There

    chance is like a programmed computer, and i don't want to review this like a computer that had been programmed to give decision whether is a good film or not, subtantial or not, instead i want to feel being with chance is a miracle, like all the characters felt. not like the audience that knew he is dumb. what a wonderful ending.

  • smndvdcl's rating of the film Being There

    The timing of Strauss' 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' is cinematic golddust. Superb method acting from Sellers and some pertinent political musings through characterisation and context. Whilst 'Harold and Maude' will remain my favourite Ashby film for its acerbic edge, 'Being There' will always be considered one of his best.

  • ASHES IN THE HOURGLASS's rating of the film Being There

    There are 2 films here. One is melancholic fable about a man coming to understand death and another who is trying embrace his own inevitable one. The second is a satire of the media and the politics of 1970 America, similar to an extent to Lumet's Network. To be honest, I wish it was solely about the first story or at least more of it, but both were sufficiently interesting so that I wasn't very disappointed.

  • Tigrão's rating of the film Being There

    I was in awe in front of such a wonderful story, full of charm, humor and drama, such amazing performances, and such a simple and minimalist direction from Hashby. I loved absolutely everything about this movie, and can't wait to watch it again. And I also realized that Shirley MacLaine was terribly attractive...

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