I dug into iTunes, where I found and rented Peter Sellers's "Being There," a film I had never before seen in its entirety. Friend and movie blogger Steve Honeywell, in his review, had asked me for the answer to a question:
I said a month or so ago that Pinocchio was in many ways the purest naïve character ever created for a film. I had forgotten about Chance, who is equally devoid of personality and any basic skill. In his own way, Chance is sort of a Zen Buddhist saint, a person who is purely and totally in “the now” because he has no effective mental past and no real conception of the future. But how saintly is he if he got that way through no design of his own? How much wisdom really falls from his lips if he doesn’t understand the wisdom himself (Kevin, I expect an answer on this). The final (and I admit, truly wonderful) shot of the film only emphasizes this impression.
Well, I've now seen "Being There" all the way through, and finally feel qualified to say something about it. As I noted in the comments to Steve's review, though, my other friend Nathan has already done a bang-up job of exegeting this film. There's little I can add to Nathan's profound and thorough analysis, but I will note that Nathan and I probably aren't on the same page about who and what Chance is. My feeling, as I noted in an earlier comment to Steve, is that Taoism rather than Buddhism provides a better lens through which to understand Chance.
More coming soon.