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3,821 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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