Sellers plays an innocent, older man who is a live-in gardner in a large home. Chancey, his character, is pictured as ‘simple’ in that you get the sense he is not quite ‘all there’… but you can’t quite put your finger on him. Clearly the people he works for thought it best to shelter him from the world and so his gentle life consists of tending plants and watching television – which he adores. This is all he knows. When the elderly owner of the home dies, the house is sold and Chancey is forced to leave the estate walls he has lived behind his entire life.
The scene in the film when he walks out the front door and up the road with a suitcase in one hand is wonderful. You realize immediately that the house, a beautiful estate on the inside, is actually in a very, very run down part of town. As Chancey makes his way down the road he not only encounters the world for the first time -- he walks straight into the ghetto, and it’s not long before he’s confronted with a rather mean-looking bunch of men.
Here’s roughly what happens next.
The men begin to get more aggressive and distinctly menacing, and as the pitch rises, Chancey is on totally unfamiliar ground. Threatened, lost, and in the middle of a potentially dangerous situation, Chancey does the only thing he knows how to do: he reaches in to his pocket and pulls out … the TV remote and presses the button to change the channel.
When the world is not how we would want it, and people do not behave as we think they should, isn’t how we react very much the equivalent of pointing the remote and hoping for the best?
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