**SPOILERS** Christian view of "Being There" (1980 with Peter Sellers)?


Based on another thread, I was looking through the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and was surprised by a review of the 1980 movie “Being There” - at usccb.org/movies/b/beingthere.shtml

It describes the movie as about a man “who becomes a national celebrity when the rich and powerful mistake his slow-wittedness and ignorance for profound intelligence”.

I’ve read the book, and it is interesting how the main character’s simple mindedness really IS good advice for the world.


You’ve been warned! But at the end of the movie, we see this simple man, who the review calls slow witted and ignorant WALK ON WATER! How in the world can they call a simple character that the world “mistakes” for profound intelligence and is ultimately portraited as Christ? It boggles my mind they could make such a comment and blaring mistake!

Anyone else seen the movie (which I DO recommend, Peter Sellers is wonderful) or read the book? Am I imagining things about the end of the movie?

I like Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther movies, as he plays the bumbling detective. He is awfully hard on his side-kick.

In the NT, Christ is missidentified after the resurrection, by Mary Magdalene who thinks he is a gardener.

Maybe the movie will be on IFC sometime.

There have been a few movies about an ordinary person really being either very deep or a genius in disguise. This movie, if it is as they say, is about a person who isn’t either. So he is actually antithetical to Christ, who Christians believe is God. If you think that he has some quality that is admirable, perhaps you think that he is favored by God. Perhaps God is telling you something within that movie, for he uses everything to His glory. We are made in the image and likeness of God.

What were the intentions, do you think, of the producers/directors of that movie? How do you feel about characterizations in movies, generally? How does what we see have to do with what the makers of the movie wanted us to see; what comes from our own experieces, or, from God who is the creator of all, so it is more than an experience!?

I haven’t seen the movie.

I have seen the movie, more than once.

I believe the character of Chance to be the simple minded person he is shown as. I think the movie (I haven’t read the book, but I will) is poking fun at the rest of society. Everyone is looking so desparately for a “savior” they mistake his ignorance for brilliance. Of course, this is what makes the story so funny.

I have often wondered about the ending scene with him “walking on water”.

I don’t think he is actually walking on water. I believe he is just simple-minded enough to take off across the pond, with out thinking of the consequences. I think he just happens to take a route with some underlying pavers or stones. There is the saying about God taking care of fools. But, if anyone saw him crossing the pond that way, they might be convinced that he was some Christ-like figure.

I am related to a person who could have been the model for the character of Chance. I often marvel at how other folks, outside the family, will do headstands trying to make some really silly thing he says into some gem of wisdom. Much like Chance does, this relative also quotes things straight from the TV or from something just read, and parrots the quote back, as if it were his own thoughts. This amazed me, until I caught on.

Now this person, like Chance, has a good heart and no ill-will toward anyone else. I am guessing people like this will be in Heaven a great deal sooner than I ever will be.

Thank you for two interesting responses so far.

Ohioszo you touch on what makes art truly great and truly great art enduring - the value is in how individual people are affected by the experience. One of my fondest memories of a recent visit to Italy was the chance to see the artistic beauty of the Vatican (remember, I’m Jewish). My reaction to the wonders of St. Peter’s Basilica or the Sistine Chapel was spiritual (but not Religious) the majesty, love, and grandeur in such art and architecture was amazing to me. Of course if you were in the exact same situation you’d have a very different reaction, but both of our reactions are as valid.

So I guess once the plot of the movie was revealed as being about Christ**, my reaction was very different than a Christian’s reaction would be.

Which leads me to Peggy’s response, which seems perfectly timed! **To me, in the world of the movie, Chance was Christ. I agree that thinking Chance was just walking on stones, too clueless to notice, is another valid interpretation.

Going back to imagining what the movie producers had in mind, I’m pretty sure that the book does not have the walking-on-water scene. Either the movie producers thought the book was TOO subtle and needed to knock us over the head with the stereo typical walking-on-water, or they wanted to make a different point than the book.

One might remind oneself that Jesus Christ was rejected by men. Then, until Charlemagne who had a vision of the cross, and even to this day of time, His followers are given ultimatums by those in power: Either bow to us or be killed. The Lord wasn’t a simple, harmless man, but a man who threatened the powerful in their sinful lives. Those Kings and Queens who were Christians and actually lived as Christians, lived exemplary lives, aiding the poor in their country and so forth. This was after Christ came to save his own and then the Gentile world. Those who lived exemplary lives prior to Christ, and were powerful, or were prophets, would be certain men and women in the Old Testament who were precursors to Christ … King David, Abraham, Queen Esther … and so on. The Egyptians, for instance, loved Moses. When Moses asked for more than they would give him, God had to scare these Pharohs into allowing Moses and the Jewish people to leave. Joseph, too, won favor with dreams … so the powerful may have at times, respect for wisdom, when it goes their way … or they may be mad, like Nero, Stalin, Hitler … that list that you find every year in the Sunday magazine of the worst dictators!

Sorry Ohioszo, you lost me there… not sure what your were responding to…

I saw it. And I’m not sure what I would think of it now (there are several problematical scenes.) I’m only remembering but the movie might have been suggesting that Christ is only who we think he is.

Looking back, the portrayal makes me uncomfortable. It seemed that the other characters surrounding Chance (Mary Magdalene mistook Christ at first for a gardener???) read an awful lot into his actions.

The “Rich and powerful” of the world *rejected *Christ. That is the opposite of what you said the movie shown, plus, you said he reminded you of your image of Christ. Besides what I said that we are all in God’s image, I wanted to add that he was rejected by the rich and powerful.

I gave some notorious examples, which were people moved by Satanic forces. Didn’t have to mention them. Could just mention some of those people who are too greedy to care about the people who lost their investments.

By checking out the list of Saints, some rich and powerful lived by Christ’s example, throughout history: There were those of the Hebrew People who were rich and powerful, but were precursors to Christ. Precursor defined: “One that precedes and indicates, suggests, or announces someone or something to come.” The Faith of these and of some in the present day is deeper than than the fascination of those portrayed in that movie, with respect to the characterization of those who followed your perceived Christ-figure.

The readings of this past week, speak to this rejection of Christ.

And now, O kings, give heed;
take warning, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice before him;
with trembling rejoice.

For so the Lord has commanded us,
I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
that you may be an instrument of salvation
to the ends of the earth."

Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said,
"It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first,
but since you reject it
and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life,
we now turn to the Gentiles.

For so the Lord has commanded us,
I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
that you may be an instrument of salvation
to the ends of the earth." The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this
and glorified the word of the Lord.
All who were destined for eternal life came to believe,
and the word of the Lord continued to spread
through the whole region.
The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers
and the leading men of the city,
stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas,
and expelled them from their territory.

8 But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” 9 which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, 10 for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her.

What’s really interesting about this thread is that JUST THE OTHER DAY DH and I were discussing this very movie.

Ah yes, Ohioszo, I see what you mean now. In the story his simple way of relating everything to the garden he grew up in was valued by the rich and powerful, not rejected, you’re right. An interesting distinction that I didn’t understand until now. I really am going to have to rent the movie or find the book and take another look!

And Sailor Kenshin, funny how that always seems to happen, no?!

I think I might have to watch the movie again.

Anne Rice has written about Jesus’ childhood, and has written it so that he has experiences that would provide material for later parables, in her imagination. Obviously, it was the common things, that a farmer, shepherd, etc., would understand literally which made up parables, if you read the Gospel. Christ’s parables are very different from poetry that the educated or wordly man may love, which may compare a woman to a flower; things purely sentimental. Perhaps the movie is sentimentality. Maybe you could benefit from reading Gilbert K. Chesterton, on man; he probably spoke about it. It is fascinating to learn of the nuances in Shakespeare’s plays, that suggest that he was actually a Roman Catholic during the reign of Queen Elizabeth! (EWTN show.) That is an example of how some well off people allowed themselves a storyteller, without discovering his particular depth of belief. So it is not that a poet, a good poet would lack depth either … they hide the depth in words for only some to find. So, we have people … the poor in spirit and sometimes in fact … who have “eyes to see” and “ears to hear,” to tell the rest of us.

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