This is a public service announcement designed to inform you, the faithful Birth.Movies.Death. readership, that one of the greatest films ever made is finally headed to Criterion Blu-ray. Because you clicked on this post, I assume you already know that we're talking about Hal Ashby's Being There, but on the off chance that you're slow on the uptake: we're talking about Hal Ashby's Being There.
The film, a gorgeous dramedy featuring the best performance Peter Sellers ever committed to film (which is saying something!) arrives via Criterion on March 21st. If there were any justice in the world, you'd be able to look outside your window right now and see people celebrating in the streets.
If you're not already familiar with Ashby's film, here's the official plot synopsis, via Criterion:
In one of his most finely tuned performances, Peter Sellers plays the pure-hearted Chance, a gardener forced out of moneyed seclusion and into the urban wilds of Washington, D.C., after the death of his employer. Shocked to discover that the real world doesn’t respond to the click of a remote, Chance stumbles haplessly into celebrity after being taken under the wing of a tycoon (Oscar winner Melvyn Douglas), who mistakes his new protégé’s mumbling about horticulture for sagacious pronouncements on life and politics, and whose wife targets Chance as the object of her desire. Adapted from a novel by Jerzy Kosinski, this hilarious, deeply melancholy satire marks the culmination a remarkable string of films by Hal Ashby in the 1970s, and serves as a carefully modulated examination of the ideals, anxieties, and media-fueled delusions that shaped American culture during that decade.
And here are the special features included with the set:
- New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- New documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with members of the production team
- Excerpts from a 1980 American Film Institute seminar with director Hal Ashby
- Author Jerzy Kosinksi in a 1979 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show
- Appearances from 1980 by actor Peter Sellers on NBC’s Today and The Don Lane Show
- Promo reel featuring Sellers and Ashby
- Trailer and TV spots
- Deleted scene, outtakes, and an alternate ending
- PLUS: An essay by critic Mark Harris
That is a stacked release. And well-deserved, I might add. I can't wait to see what that 4K restoration looks like in action.
If you're interested in picking up your own copy (and you should be), you can head on over to Criterion right now and pre-order a copy at what appears to be a 20% discount (it'll run you $31.96 before shipping). Trust me when I say that it's worth every penny.
All Being There enthusiasts are encouraged to hit the comments below to get my back on this.