Chance Gardiner (Peter Sellers) is a very interesting character. All his wisdom comes from gardening and television. He is illiterate, though politicians and businessmen listen carefully to what he has to say and reproduce his words. The limited mental sphere in which he exists has everything he needs and he looks complete, powerful and satisfied within it. He doesn’t consider himself more or less important than others, he has no social ideals, no need to leave a personal mark in this world. If asked about the current affairs in the country, he will answer using examples from the trees and nature.
This lighthearted attitude passes for wise, profound — and if you give it a little thought, it may well be. He doesn’t bother anybody, he is polite, well-dressed, he speaks very little and when he does he only uses examples from gardening or his other hobby, watching television. Apparently, this proves enough to provide him with all the enviable qualities most people would wish to possess, even those of repute. A calm soul, vitality, sensitivity, confidence without obstinacy, respect towards others and nature. He has the talent of being normal. Observe how empty and one-sided most people look around him.
The director Hal Ashby and Peter Sellers create an exquisite, allegorical character who lights the spark for many philosophical reflections. Could we ever be complete by knowing very little, if only through love? Is life a state of mind? What would happen if we all dealt with our little worlds with the same amount of love Chauncey gives? Wouldn’t that put us back into a better life orientation? Could this be the way to go on? Minding our own business? What if the microcosm in which we live contains all we need to be happy and complete — will the knowledge of this help us get through our problems? Mr. Gardiner seems to have gotten through all of his, even unwittingly.