A fascist masterpiece, Being There anticipates the conservative 80s in its fantasy of politics without politics, and a president operating according to ideologically bracketed common sense, rather than party policies. It's also the greatest cinematic contemplation of television since The Apartment - and, like that film, understands the chamber drama as the most suitable genre for exploring the electronic hearth. In the role he was born to play, Peter Sellers presents 'Chance', an autistic gardener who's never moved beyond the television-stage, and, leaving his house for the first time upon the death of his master, is forced to test his powers of televisual mimesis against the real world. Upon being adopted by a dying aristocrat and his young wife, Eve (Shirley McLaine), Chance - or Chauncey Gardener, as he comes to be known - is taken as a political guru, largely because of his inability to think metaphorically, particularly when it comes to the overdetermined metaphorical constellations of death and economics, both of which are reduced to so much quasi-biological determinism. It could easily be the worst kind of conservative 'wisdom', but is rescued by Ashby's exquisite identification of Chance with the media interface itself, explaining his troubling invisibility to the various government bureaus anxious to investigate or politicise him, as well as his inability to properly recognise himself when he finally appears on television, just as he's never fully cognisant of his own name. At the same time, an idiosyncratic turn towards the end sexualises Chance's gradual discovery of movement - of a wheelchair, an elevator, a car, or his own feet, in the spectacular, picaresque sequence in which he searches for a garden in the urban blight of inner city Washington. This scopophilic turn tempers Ashby's taste for dehumanising geometries with an exquisite, analog tactility, the sensory-motor equivalent of walking on water, and a beautiful, haunting anticipation of the 80s convergence of cinematic and televisual softness.