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“Being There”: National Film Registry #27

The countdown to the newest titles to be added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry continues.  Those films will be disclosed on December 12th.

Back in 2015, the Library named the film “Being There,” starring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine to its Registry.  “Being There” is beloved for many things, including Sellers’s quiet lead performance, but the film is much more than that.  As Jerry Dean Roberts explained:

“Sometimes the best films are the ones that strive to be more than just one thing. We see the story that is presented to us but then, at the best of times, the hidden truth begins to reveal itself. Hal Ashby’s ‘Being There’ has a lot of deep meanings wrapped around a man who does not. He is a simpleton, a man seemingly born without the capacity for cynicism, or even the capacity to learn. And yet, his connection to the outside world has a transformative effect that he doesn’t realize. The revelation in his simpleton is that his limited capacity is interpreted as genius. Is he limited, or are we? “

Read the rest of the “Being There” (PDF) essay.


Title:  “Being There”

Year of Release:  1979

Year Added to the National Film Registry:  2015  (See all films added to the Registry in 2015.)

Trivia:  The great Peter Sellers also appears in the Registry-named films “Dr. Strangelove” and “The Pink Panther.”

This blog post is the 27th of 30 in our “30 Years of the National Film Registry” series which was launched to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Registry.  The National Film Registry selects 25 films each year showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.  The 30th National Film Registry selections will be announced on December 12, 2018.



“Felicia”: National Film Registry #26

Next Wednesday, the Library announces its newest titles to the Registry.  But, first, we look back at 2014…. In 2014, the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress added to its esteemed list the short documentary film, “Felicia,” about the life of a teenage girl, named Felicia Bragg, growing up in the Watts section of Los Angeles. […]

“Little Nemo”: National Film Registry #21

In 2009, the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry added the charming and innovative animated work “Little Nemo” to its list. Animated works–both long-form and short-form-are often added to the Registry.  And no list that attempts to convey the depth and richness of animation can ignore the work of the great Winsor McCay. As Daniel Eagan wrote […]

“Johnny Guitar”: National Film Registry #20

Joan Crawford, once the queen of the MGM lot,  had one of her very best late-career roles in the film “Johnny Guitar” which was added to the National Registry in 2008. “Johnny” is a unique and one-of-a-kind Western which Michael Schlesinger attempts to get a handle on by saying: “There are very few films—especially from Hollywood studios—that […]

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”: National Film Registry #19

It was in 2007, that the sci-fi classic “Close Encounters” was added to the Library’s National Film Registry.  Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr and Melinda Dillon starred in the film that forever put Devil’s Tower on the map and seemed to codify the popular depiction of space aliens. Writer Matt Zoller Seitz looked back at this landmark film […]

“Rear Window”: National Film Registry #17

“Rear Window” is the classic film thriller of window-watching and murder; it was added to the Registry in 2005. Former Library of Congress Film Preservation Board member John Belton recapped the film by stating: “‘Rear Window’ tells the story of a globe-trotting photo-journalist who breaks his leg on a dangerous assignment and is confined to a wheelchair in […]

“Fox Movietone News: Jenkins Orphanage Band”: Film Registry #15

Before television came along, news reels were a vital way for Americans to be kept abreast of important news and events and, unlike radio, news reels could use the magic of film to illustrate their stories.  One of the great purveyors of news reels was Fox Movietone.  This Movietone installment, from 1928, was chosen for the […]

“This Is Cinerama”: Film Registry #14

From the list of the LC’s 2002 Registry selection comes this  feature-length look at one of the (literally) biggest breakthroughs in film technology–Cinerama.  Cinerama is one of the many audience pleasing, technological advancements in the movie-going experience that is recognized via the Registry.  (Another is the 1953 film “House of Wax,” the first feature to […]