Being There – Blu-ray Disc Review

January 23, 2009 – 11:23 AM - Posted by: Justin Sluss

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Blu-ray Disc Review

4 out of 5 starsThe Movie Itself has an average rating of 8.0 on IMDb
4 out of 5 starsVideo Quality 1080p in VC-1 on a 50gb disc
3.5 out of 5 starsAudio Quality
Dolby TrueHD 1.0 Mono
1.5 out of 5 starsBonus Materials with DVD ports and some new footage
Year: – 1979
Length: – 130 minutes
Region:Region 1 (A)
This uses 24.5GB for the movie out of 26.1GB total.

Overall VerdictIt’ll Grow to Your Liking

Buy it for $19.99 @
Buy it for $19.99 @

— Review written by: Justin Sluss


Defining Moments Clip:

The Movie Itself is based on the novel by Jerzy Kosinski who also penned the screenplay. The film was Directed by Hal Ashby. The film revolves around a man simply named “Chance” played by Peter Sellers. “Chance” is a live-in servant gardener for “an old man” as he refers to whom passes away very early on in the film. We learn that Chance is the obvious type of person you would commonly refer to as “slow” or mentally challenged. He doesn’t know how to read, write or really seem to have too much above a third grade education yet he knows how to do two things that are very important to him. He knows how to grow things, he’s a gardener which is a job he’s very passionate about and he knows how to watch, Television that is. He’s addicted to watching TV but his short attention span leaves him changing the channel very frequently.

Once Chance’s boss, “the old man” passes away, the other hired servant, a cook tells him that it means he’s going to have to leave. You are immediately feeling sorry for this poor man and realizing that they are going to kick him out of his quarters that he had been raised in and learned to call home. It’s not long before lawyers come along and tell him just as the cook had, that he has to leave. So he packs his suitcase, turns off his TV with his remote control, which he packs with him and sets forth out on a journey through the world he has only ever seen on TV. His boss never let him leave the house he tells the lawyers. He’s a very monotone type speaking individual which comes off as a bit like a smart ass to a degree and ends up leaving people liking him. He makes his way through Washington, D.C. and soon finds himself watching himself on a “old school” big screen rear projection TV in a shop window attached to a camcorder which he can see himself on. This leaves him dumbfounded as he’s lived his life watching TV, he’s now out in the real world and he sees himself on TV. Before he knows what has happened, he’s been hit by a car. It’s an extremely wealthy woman “ Eve Rand” (Shirley MacLaine) who is married to the old and sickly “Benjamin Rand” played by Melvyn Douglas. The couple and their servants soon take a liking to our leading man, Chancey as they begin calling him and that really sets you up for the film and it’s plot.

He’s an obviously slow, of below average intelligence individual yet he has this charisma with people that gets him places. Places like sitting next to his new found friend Ben Rand and the President of the United States (Jack Warden). It’s a film in ways that went on to inspire films like “Forrest Gump” or “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button“. This was one of the last films that British comedian Peter Sellers starred in and is a must see for anyone who is a fan of his past work.

In closing, “Being There” is a really unique comedy in the sense that it also has a heartfelt element to it that is overall dramatic. I have to admit I had never seen the film previously before this and I’m very happy that I chose this title as my pick to review. Fans of the late Peter Sellers who enjoyed him in films like “The Pink Panther” and “Dr. Strangelove” will definitely want to give this a viewing if they haven’t seen it already. You won’t be disappointed.

Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the VC-1 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Shot on Panavision Panaflex cameras using traditional 35mm film this makes for a pretty nice transfer to Hi-Def but there’s surprisingly not a large amount of film grain present and I can likely attribute that to the use of DNR (Digital Noise Reduction). There is a moderate amount of detail present here you would have never seen on the DVD release, VHS or etc but it’s nothing “awe inspiring” visually.

These things aside, the overall real complaint I have is the continuity of the black level throughout the film. In between some scene changes you’ll see the black level go very askew and it really is distracting at times. It’s nothing totally unbearable but it’s something I feel, personally, could have been corrected at Warner digital restorations lab in Hollywood, which I was fortunate enough to have toured last year. I only criticize because it’s first my job and second I know they really have it in them to do slightly better than I see here. With that being said though this has really now huge flaws, just small ones that I nitpicked at. It’s sense of detail, color and fleshtones are all rather impressive for a film from 1979 if you take it’s age into consideration. This earns a respectable “4 Star Rating” for overall video quality and is a definite improvement worth owning on Blu-ray Disc to replace your DVD, or your best means so far to see it on home video for the first time. I feel though that this could definitely use another restoration in a few years in the form of a re-release Collector’s Edition. We all have no doubts they plan to double-dip anyway, at least we can hope for improvement in DD’ing from the studios later down the line.

Audio Quality on this release is presented in both Dolby TrueHD 1.0 Mono Dolby Digital 1.0 @192kbps. The TrueHD is actually decoded on my PlayStation 3 as 2.0 but that could be an error on the side of the PS3, while it decodes the Dolby Digital as 1.0 correctly through the front center channel. I will say I just updated to the latest firmware for PS3 tonight, so keep that in mind as well on that previous comment. Now say what you will about Mono and using a lossless format like Dolby TrueHD for the audio on this but it actually works quite well. I feel the sound totally fits the mono sound of late 70’s television which this film really revolves around in the cinematographic sense as well as to our lead character “Chance” (Peter Sellers) who keeps one (TV) on constantly and ocassionally switches the channel. The music in the first few minutes of the film sounds rather nice to be in Mono, it’s Classical. Speaking of classic, once “Chance” leaves his original home after the old man dies, you’ll be treated to a wonderful blend of genres that I like to call “2001 A Funky Porn Odyssey“. Major kudos to Johnny Mandel for the film’s original music. It’s because of Mr. Mandel’s music you get gems like that. It is symbolic the sound of the classical music from “2001: A Space Oddssey” playing over top of a funky soul or R&B sounding rhythm.

Now aside from the music what’s very important here, as it is both dramatic and comedic is dialogue which I’m relieved to say comes through in total clarity working only with a front center channel or left and right front channel (Stereo) speakers. Nothing really too much worth complaining about here, fans of the film and first time viewers will probably agree with me on that. This earns a semi-decent “3.5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality and is a definite step in the right direction from Warner. I’m not sure we should ever see a 5.1 (or higher) upconverted mix as this was originally recorded in Mono according to it’s IMDb listing. So, with that being said — I’m not too sure what they could do to improve the sound on a future re-release. In other words, it’s fine how it is. You have either a TrueHD (Hi-Res) or Dolby Digital audio choice which is exactly what you need. The one thing they could do is stop making it default to Dolby Digital. They could make a BD-J application to remember your sound preferences such as which audio codecs you prefer. Just brainstorming out loud there to end my review here.

Bonus Materials are presented in Standard Definition (480i/p) video using VC-1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound @192kbps.

  • Memories from Being There” (14:48) is presented in 4:3 (Fullscreen) and has actress Illeana Douglas, the granddaughter of actor Melvyn Douglas discussing her late grandfather working on the film and the late Peter Sellers friendship with him as well. This proves to be a rather interesting featurette and is new according to Warner‘s description on the back of the packaging.
  • Deleted Scenes” (1:42) presented in 16:9 (Widescreen), two in total were recently discovered by the studio and are included here. This proves to be quite the treat, shedding a little bit more laughter our way especially in the second scene.
  • Alternate Ending” (2:03) presented in 16:9 (Widescreen) is self-explanatory enough and I don’t want to do any spoilers here either, so I’ll let it simply at that.
  • Gag Reel” (6:15) presented in 16:9 (Widescreen) is definitely full of some hilarious outtakes thanks to Peter Sellers namely.
  • Theatrical Trailer” (2:44) presented in 16:9 (Widescreen) is actually in rather nice quality unlike most 70’s or 80’s trailers usually are.

Overall the bonus materials a pretty much expected and “the norm” for a back catalog release. That aside, if you are an old or new fan of the film, like myself, you’ll enjoy what you get here and walk away learning a little something along the way — mostly how to laugh at the late comedic genius that was Peter Sellers in one of his last film roles.

Blu-ray Disc packaging:


NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.

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  1. 2 Responses to “Being There – Blu-ray Disc Review”

  2. Screenshots will be up in a few hours max… maybe less than that for me to get them up. We’ll see.

    By Justin Sluss on Jan 23, 2009

  3. In my multicultural film class in college, we watched this film — first and only time I’d seen it — and I remember being very moved by it. On the surface, it appears to be a simple-minded man, but through course discussion we drew comparisons to a modern day messiah and Chancey. When you choose to interpret it as such, it turns out to be a far deeper film, I think, but of course, far more religious.

    You should give it another watch with that in mind. See if you can pick up on all of the references — minus the blatant one of course. ;)

    By James Segars on Feb 2, 2009

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