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Talking Images

Episode 50 · 7 months ago

Being There (featuring Autism Through Cinema)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In our very first cross-over episode we are joined by (Dr.) David Hartley from the Autism Through Cinema podcast to discuss Hal Ashby's classic "Being There", starring Peter Sellers in a role generally read as being on the autism spectrum.

We'll explore why it makes some of us a little uncomfortable, whether the film mocks Peter Sellers' character or the, mostly, wealthy individuals he interacts with,  attempt to decipher the message, try our best to unpack that infamous ending - and just explore our general reactions.

We will also hear from David about what Being There gets right (if it is indeed about a neuro-divergent character), hear about the Autism Through Cinema project as a whole and why their podcast and why it is worth checking out.

You are listening to talking images, the official podcast of ICM Forumcom. Well, hello everyone, and Chris. Now I'm very happy to welcome you to our first ever crossover episode. David Hartley from artist and through cinema is here to discuss how Ashba's classic being there, starring Peter Sellers in the role of Shans, and we'll get a little time to talk about the autism through cinema project as well and what they do. So, just to started all off, thank you so much for coming on, David. Before we start talking about the being there, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got into cinema and how you joined up with the autist and through Cinema Project? Great. Hi. Yeah, thanks very much and thanks so much for inviting me on and yeah, during this little crossover episode. I'm very excited to be here. And Yeah, so my name is David Hartley. I am I mean I've been into, you know, film for very many years and I I first sort of really started getting into it as a kind of academic discipline back in my a levels. Actually, I did a film studies a level and from that point I've been really interested in just like the study of film and I've been through various different degrees studying it. Most recently I've been doing a PhD which I finished about this time next year, actually this time last year. So I'm now that actually Dr David Hartley, which I have a lot of leisure telling people, not that it's really problem. Sorry say again, introduced you all wrong. Oh No, don't worry, it's too it's too mortifyingly embarrassing to be called Doctor. Anyway. I still haven't gotten used to it, even after even atter a year of of the of the sort of post PhD life is still very weird. But Anyway, yes, my PhD. So I did a PhD at the University of Manchester. It was a creative writing PhD, but it actually ended up being a bit more of a hybrid projects really, so or, as we like to call it in academia, interdisciplinary. Yeah, I had to produce a kind of creative part of the projects for me that that wasn't ended up being a novel, but I also had to write a thesis and the thesis was much more based in film and TV and sort of screen theory, film theory, that kind of thing, partly because that was my that was partly my academic background at that point anyway, and so the two things ended up sort of talking to each other and compliment each other and there was a bit of creative, sort of literary theory and then there was also a sort of more critical film studies side of it as well. So great, very great, a lot of fun, a lot of crossover, all sorts of interesting things coming out of that. And the topic, the overall topic for the whole project, both the creative and the critical side, was autism. So I am I come to this because I have a sister who is autistic, my older sister. So autism has always been a major part of my life, not as major part as it is for her, obviously, because she's actually autistic and I'm and I'm not, but it's certainly been a big part of my childhood and also a big influence on me as a writer as well. I'm always interested in how my writing has been sort of shaped and crafted by kind of growing up with with with my sister. And related to that, this sort of more specific topic, and we might end up talking a little bit about this in relation to this film, but the specific topic that I was looking at was how autism is represented or expressed or explored, I guess, in works of science fiction and fantasy and the weird and that kind of thing. So a lot of my creative writing tends to sort of be in those in those categories, in those genre categories, and I was interested in how autism intersects with those because for me, the influence of my sister and her way of seeing the world has kind of had a quite an influence on this, on the way that I write and the way that I and the sort of narratives that I enjoy with in sci Fi, fantasy, that kind of thing. Yeah, and it was really good. And during the process of all of this I was attending conferences and writing papers and a lot sort of thing, and I came across soon, quite a quite soon came across the autism through cinema project. Now, the alsosm through cinema projects started at around about the same time that I started my PhD, sort around about two thousand and seventeen initially, although it wouldn't really get going into to till about two thousand and eighteen. Really it's a welcome trust funded four year project based the Queen Mary University of London and is led by Professor's Professor Janet Harbord and Dr Stephen Eastwood, and it's a kind of investigation into the relationship of autism and Cinema and film, and it's there's all sorts of different things going on in there. There's kind of like archival research of all kind of medical films featuring real autistic people from like even before autism got its kind of name in the S. There's also there's a film being made. Steven Eastwood is...

...making a film with collaborating with a number of autistic filmmakers to make a film, and there was as there was a season of screenings at the Barbican in London last year of films, which I was involved with a little bit. And then one of the other things that came out of it was this podcast. The autism through cinema podcast partly came about actually because of the lockdown, because suddenly, when the lockdown came in in two thousand and twenty it's sort of canceled quite a lot of the things that the project were involved with at the time. So they decided to move a lot of it online and that's when they Janet approached me and asked me if I wanted to record a few episodes of this podcast, and then I did and I really enjoyed it and ended up sticking around and nowadays I practically run the podcast, or at least co run the podcast, which is really good fun. And so the autism through tonum a podcast is it's been going now for I think we've got about I think we've got over twenty episodes now. And Yeah, basically what we do is it's myself, Janet and three or four other co hosts, most of whom or autistic, aut is it creatives, autistic film journalists and so on, and we basically just pick a film, watch it and then gather together and talk about it really much the same way that we're doing today. And it's been great. And you know, we've covered all sorts of wonderful wonderful sort of broad range of films. It's not just the obvious films. In fact, actually we've sort of avoided quite a lot of the obvious films. We haven't done an episode on Rainman, for example. What we tend to do is we send to say, okay, is anyone know of a film that in some way kind of connects with autism or expresses autism or you feel like it might explore autism in some way, even if it there aren't any autistic characters or it never says the word autism. And that's what we've ended up doing. And quite a lot of the films that we've covered sort of explore like alternative ways of being and we look at that through an autistic Lens. Some examples being we looked at a raise ahead, for example. At one point we looked at Paul Thomas Anderson Film Punch, drunk, love, good time and safty brothers. We looked at nightmare before Christmas. We've looked at cars, the pixar film or sorts of way and wonderful films, cat people, the film noir kind of horror film, lots of really interesting films. So it's, it continues to be, a really fascinating exploration of yeah, where we can sort of identify autism within films, perhaps not necessarily or always the most obvious places, and we're interested in so how, like how film language can of can create this the sort of cinematic experience of autism as well. We looked in particular Darren Aronofsky's film Pie, which I think those that in quite interesting ways. We've never looked, however, at at this film being there sex, and that sounds really interesting, David, and it's funny that they actually have the same origin story as well. At this podcast was also started after the pandemic, because we does one a different way to express our passion of cinema, and I think that's that's a good point to bring in our other co hosts as well, Tom and the tall, and start talking a little bit about being there, which, while probably not as obvious as Rainmon, is one of the first films that usually gets talked about when the topic of autism in cinema comes up, even though the character of chance it's never specifically said to be a newer, divergent or on the spectrum. So that's probably not something that was talked about as much in the S and I look there for from both of you first. Now we can get back to David, because I know he actually watched this for the first time last the first time yesterday, which will be exciting to hear like a completely fresh view. But both you, Tom and you saw you have watched it then I did the same. Yesterday's thought of thought. Talk to me a little bit about the your first reaction to theme being there and then your reaction now what we watching it specifically in the context of discussing me to the length of artism through within them up we can really start the good time. Thanks, Chris. So. I first watched being there, I think it was about twelve thirteen years ago, and at the time I hadn't considered it from an autistic perspective whatsoever. I did quite enjoy the film, it fell just short of greatness for me. So it was a film that I was eager to revisit to see if my perspective it's changed over the years, and we watching it again this week proved very fruitful for me. I really enjoyed the film, even when considering it through the perspective of this podcast episode will...

...an autistic approach and I think there's just so much to unpack and discuss. So I don't want to delve too much into that yet because obviously want to hear from our guest, but I'm very excited to get into the nitty gritty and talk about this fear. So being there's a film that I first saw around fifteen years ago and the first time I saw I thought it was absolutely amazing. I thought it or was will the areas. I re watched it twice and then something happened. Around twelve years ago I started my teaching career. During my teaching career I've worked with a number of kids on the autism spectrum and when I came to do my fourth viewing of the film, which was around five years ago, I could not get over how incredibly mean spirited it seemed and the parts that I was laughing at will thought of hilarious the first two or three times with things are making me a really fringe and re watch and I couldn't even believe it. I think I re watched it for a fifth time shortly after it's maybe year afterwards, had the same reaction and then I just watched it a few days ago for this podcast. I think I'm perhaps not quite so negative on it on six viewing as I was on fourth viewing when I first realized it's about an undiagnosed artistic person. That was like a real shot to me at really for the my steam. It's slowly risen a bit higher up in my esteem due to the quality of the performances. I think the absolutely amazing, especially Peter Sellers. But yeah, for better or worse, I think a lot of it is incredibly mean spirited and a lot of its you know, about laughing at the autistic traits that chance has. So it's a bit of an uncomfortable film for me. It is well made technically, it is well acted, to some of the humor and there I just find very misguided. That's a that's a really interesting day for sure, and I think I actually had a similar reaction on my first view into the one you had on the Ford, because I have autistic people in my family. But the on my second viewing more recently, I didn't really feel like chance was necessarily mocked. I think if anything, I struggle to kind of find the carmonate it because I wasn't sure if the humor was coming from seance being odd or from Pete The neurotypical people being all the and this not being able to understand what he's talking about, because it's you know, it's quite clear that his thought with when he's talking about, you know, his room upstairs, which is very literally sleep stay, assumes making some kind of grand parable to heaven when he's talking about the garden outside, they make the lead that he's talking about the economy. I think that the one thing I struggle Terry is at I'm not hundred percent sure about what the messages is it just humor in this kind of miscommunication? Is it that they just assumed that he is near typical and read it as if it has to be something grander, which, yes, I mean there's something fun and just misunderstandings, or is it saying something about society and if so, what is it saying? What is it if it isn't satire, it's all this it mocking, it's and some of those things that it could be mocking could look very poor on how the film kind of use Shams. So it's a complicated film for me, but I will say that Peter Sellers was phenomenal in it. I think all of the acting performances and the craft itself is really strong and I would love to just start talking about just the various scenes in it. And foul sellers played it as well, because it's not really played with the most obvious calm displayed with former melancholy, which hit me a lot harder this time. But but I love to hear David's perspective, coming into this completely fresh and also coming from the specific background that they has, talking about artists through is in them use up. What was your reaction on your first viewing of being there, David? Yeah, so it's Oh, it's really interesting hearing all of your thoughts on the film actually, because you're all hitting on various things that I thought as I was watching it. So my sort of connection with this film really is that. Yeah, this was my first time I'd watched it. I had been aware of it for a while and I kind of broadly knew what it was about and I'd seen clips, I think, and I'd read also a couple of articles about it when I was doing my research around autism. There are only really a quite a small handful of films relatively speaking, that are about autism will have autistic coded characters, and so this was one that was rigged. It regularly come up and I was very glad of the chance actually to watch it. I Chris, I've been sort of putting off watching it and I think I'd been putting off watching it because I think I had assumed that it was a poor representation autism and I'd assumed...

...that it was going to be as you were saying, so a kind of laugh at the autistic character kind of vibe, and to a certain extent I do agree with you. So there is a bit of that, there is a bit of, you know, chance is this quirky on unusual character that is sort of the butt of jokes a little bit, although I think it's too bad necessarily actually, because I do think that the film is trying to I think it's trying more to try and satirize the kind of neurotypical society. I think the comedy, the humor that comes through it is the sort of use of chance, I guess, as a kind of reflection on the yeah, they kind of ridiculousness of neurotypical society, but very particularly that kind of upper class neurotypical society that sort of rubs shoulders with the elite and with the powerful, and how everything that he says to these people is taken as a kind of grand, deep meaningful metaphor, whereas really what he's saying is very literal and very simple and very straightforward, and I thought that the film handled that quite well. I thought it was scripted quite well I thought that the other performance is a good it's never too overblown either. It's kind of it remains a sort of retains a kind of gentle approach and quite gentle attitude for the most part, and I quite enjoyed it. Felt quite cozy many ways and it didn't didn't sort it wasn't overbearing necessarily. Maybe a little bit at times I thought it may be dragged. I thought the pace was a bit off at some points, but maybe that's because it's a bit of an older film than we're kind of used to a bit more of a fast pace these days. But I yeah, I sort of came away from it thinking, no, actually, that is it, that's a that's a wellmade, well performed film. But it does have multiple sort of it does hit on multiple issues that are common to films about autistic characters, and I see now this film is kind of part of a kind of a trilogy of three films that came out around this time that sort of deal with these kinds of characters. And that being so, being there being the first one, rainman being the one that came next in sort of one Thousan nine hundred and eighty eight, and then forest gump in one thousand nine hundred and forty four, and it feels to me like one thousand nine hundred and ninety four. Sorry. And it feels to me like being there is kind of quite a clear influence on forest gum and these three films taken together. This there's a similarities with chance Raymond from Rayman and forest from forest gump. There's a there's clear appetite there for a kind of quirky on unusual or autistic or autistic coded white male middle class figure who who sort of has to navigate a kind of journey through the strange neurotypical world. But I think, actually I think at the three of them, being there probably does the best job kind of shining the light on the absurdities of neurotypicality, because the feel on this sort of meant to be a kind of satire really on the kind of ridiculousness of the various systems and the codes that neuro typical people have created in the world. That sort of leaves all the kind of neuro divergent people that's outsiders. So it's to me it feels like being there shines shines more of a light on neurotypicality rather than on autism itself, and I think is kind of more successful in that way, although we do have to be slightly careful using that word because chance, it has to be said, like chances never diagnosed as autistic in the film and the word is never used at any point, that you never get any mentioned of the world autism in the film. Actually even like chances never actually diagnosed at all with any kind of new diversions or even is there any sort of suggestion that he is in your divergent all the other characters almost seem to kind of mentally bend over backwards to sort of explain away chances divergence a little bit, which I find quite interesting. I think we'll talk a little bit more about that. But Anyway, yeah, I do think. I do think this film has value. I think I prefer it actually over rain man and forrest gump for what it says and how it sort of explores neuro divergence. Yeah, that that's a really interesting in new ones, the DIG David and I think we're talking about the gentleness of that. That's one of the things that the I picked up on very early to and both clear from even the very first then, and that was really impressed by how they set up the character by sowing his interest points. And obviously his big interest is tv, and that's something that a lot of bit with daughters, mass breakers, et Cetera, have is that, you know, they had this one main interest that they they focused on and you see him turning on the TV, getting up with the TV and doing the LS this gardening. So he has the to interest and it's just setting up his characters, what he likes, what he does there, setting up his routine. Has a very specific morning routine that is clearly does every day and I think it's both in terms of...

...filmmaking as a performance. It manages to show, like you said, gentleness, but I think just in this one scene, like we don't go over multiple days instead of we just instant to understand that this is what he does every single day. This is who this character is and it's it's also the heartbreaking. You can see something on his face that he's very, very lonely. You can see he's a little bit just out of place with it all. He's at peace because it's in his routine, but it's just the atmosphere is so melancholic. It's just a really interesting watch that I don't think I've seen that in a lot of films. That puts make to me in a way. I think those opening scenes he seems quite content. It seems content, he seems quite happy and the disruption comes because the the old man that he he is the gardener for and who he has lived with his entire life dies and therefore he has to leave the House that he has lived in and in a curious way, he this house has become kind of the equivalent really of a kind of an institution. It's like it's where he's seemingly has lived his whole life and he's never had any cause to leave this place. He gets fed by the maid, he gets us his meals prepared for him, he's got all his clothes, he's got a room and you know, he's showing round the attorneys a little bit later on in the film, in the near the beginning and he saying this is my bathroom and this is my bedroom, this is where I sleep, this is my television, etc. He seems quite content and happy in there, but yeah, in a sense he is lonely as well. But I wonder if that is a bit of a kind of a projection on the part of ours ourselves to look at him think up be yeah, this must be a lonely character, whereas actually he seems quite happy in that's in that scenario, and it's only once he's left the House that he did it becomes quite clear that he has difficulty and kind of interacting and communicating with people. But then again, he's never he never really has like he always seems to be quite happy and comfortable, even when he's talking to people. He approach is strangers, says a load to them. At one point is approach is a street gang who pulled a knife on him and he seems kind of unfazed by that, and that was one of the things that slightly irritating me about about his character a little bit. While that was all quite amusing, it also I didn't feel was particularly realistic and I felt that, you know, if a real life autistic person was trying to navigate the the mean streets of Washington DC, they're going to run into a lot of problems and it's going to be a lot more dressful and a lot more intense. And it's only by virtual of the fact that he's dressed in the way that he is in this this very nice suit, and that he speak very eloquently and that he seems to be a kind of a harmless gent really, that he manages to get by and you know, ends up in this in the arms of Eve rand and then in the into the to the big mansion that he ends up staying in for most of the film, and then you know the various ridiculous steps that take him to meeting the president and getting on a chat show, etc. Etc. You know, if chance had been a for example, a black woman, that he would not that that's situation would not have happened and it would have gone in a very different direction, I think, and what we hit upon there is that one of the problems that is prevalent in the representation of autism in particular, which is it tends to be these male, white, quite comfortable characters who were quirky and funny and weird and we can kind of cope with them a little bit and then that they're not too much for a handful, and I think, well, that's probably by virtue of their privilege that they have in that situation and it's also meant that you know, particularly with Rainman and and other films, it's meant that there's been this sort of assumption that really autism is is a condition which mostly on the effects men and mostly only is as mostly on the effects like white middle class men, which of course is nonsense because it doesn't it doesn't discriminate in that in that sense. But yeah, it is sort of see, you know, his kind of pleasure and contentment, I think, in that and the opening sequences when he was moving his plants around and watching the television. I thought I would mention I don't know if these steps are your friend. The UK coppeared to Australia, but in Australia four times as many boys as girls are diagnosed as being autistic. Some of the research whatever is saying that's because, you know, girls are better at, you know, masking yet, I guess, or adapting to it or so on. But I know it's actually pretty equal the newid diversity between genders. But in terms of diagnosis of it, it is there boys, I guess, who exhibit the signs or do get diagnosed more often. So I'm not surprised there's more of representations of it with men or with boys from that ideal, but I'm not surprised about it either. Yeah, yeah, absolutely right about that case, and I think that's still the same here in the UK, although I think that that ratio is narrowing ever more as the years go by. And it's always been the case, ever since autism was first given...

...its diagnostic name, which was back in the in the S. there's long, long been this is sort of assumption that it affects more more males than females, and actually the science and the diagnostic history seems to suppot that. But there is a lot of work going on at the moment to investigate exactly how autism presents itself in women and there's a there's been a phenomenon in recent years of particularly older adult women and discovering that they are artistic and realize seeing that they are autistic and getting a kind of what we call a late diagnosis, adult diagnosis, and that's happening more and more and I think it's becoming clear that, yeah, autism presents itself differently or autistic women. Yeah, learn by virtue of the fact that they are women, have to quickly learn how to mask more than men and it's kind of men are. It's almost as if it's more acceptable for men to be eccentric than it is for women to be eccentric in a way, and I think that's kind of one of the things that is reflected in films like being there and forest gump and rain man. Is that. Yeah, it sort of reflects that diagnostic history, but also reflects that sort of men can get away with being quicky like this or other, whereas women get a bit more scrutiny. It's interesting to hear that from you. So that that I think that message of women being misdiagnosed or being missed is is getting more and more prevalent and is spreading further and further, which is really interesting. And Yeah, and I also wanted to pick up salon what you said earlier about the the mean spirited nature of the film, and I think that you're right. I think there is a mean spirited feel in some ways towards chance. And you know, he is clearly being constructed as this strange unusual character said tell you who he reminded me of, and this might be a reference that potentially, only Tom knows. I don't know how far this particular references traveled beyond the UK. There's a character in the UK called Mr Bean who with a sort of EV comedy character. Yeah, yeah, you're familiar with him something. He's quite bigg at this in Europe. Okay, right, all right, as fairly am very big. Is He really? It's always yeah, it always surprises me is how massive Mr Bean became. Butt and sorry, says again, Tom Is International. Apparently is international. Yeah, yeah, a chance. It really reminds me of Mr Bean, actually, part I partly because I sort of look some like like Mr Bean. Often wears a kind of a suit. It's always trying to look smart. Chance is always very smart of his way, very well turned out. Mr Bean this from a kind of lower class than chance, but always tries to have this kind of smart appearance and he kind of bumbles around doing all these amusing things and getting into all these troubles and high junks. I mean I used to, I used to really love Mr being growing up. It was always our no, it was used to watch it all the time. Thought it was hilarious. I mean, looking back at it is maybe a bit problematic because he's just kind of quirky, like quote unquote, weird guy that like everyone. The other people sort of treat with a bit of contempt in a way which doesn't make for quite, maybe quite a mean spirited and sort of voyeuristic atmosphere at times, possibly so really interesting a person with Mr Bean. I didn't even think about that because I guess Mr Bean as always being kind of like a nasty character, also, like he does things curse that other people, where as chats sort of more, you know, harmonious. But in terms of the mean spiritedness, I'm just thinking of, you know, particularly two seems that really get to me, the one where Cholon Mcclain tries to seduce some and ends, you know, pleasure in herself while he's off doing something else in the bed, and also the scene where there's anonymous gay person tries to picking him up at this party that he attends, and just those scenes watching him, thinking about or imagine if we actually at a real new, I diverse person in that role. I think I'm being incredibly uncomfortable position to put them in and I couldn't really reconcile the necessariness. It's not good word. I couldn't really reconcile whether those scenes are actually really needed in the plot or whether they'll just there to be funny or to be or to make fun of the fact that he is and aware of what sex is or is and where the people want to get in his pants or wherever the case might be. It's actually also really common to find that autistic characters are presented as Asexual, and again we see this in rape, both Raynman and forest gump actually as well. There's some quite uncomfortable scenes in forest gump where he's, you know, he's supposed to be having sex or or B being seduced by women that he's sort of seems confused by. And Yeah, you're right. I think that those two scenes in particular are the most uncomfortable scenes and the ones that are just most offbeat for...

...this particular film as well. And it was a shame really, because I thought that the relationship with eve, played by Shirley mcclaine, was developing in a way in which was quite seemingly quite nice and like I was almost buying into the fact that she was falling for him, even though it's either itself was is quite ridiculous in some ways. Once we got to that point where she starts to really try to seduce him and then she ends up masturbating on the floor while he's doing a comical yoga position on the bed. Yeah, that was particularly uncomfortable and it's sort of perpetuates this idea of a sexuality for autistic or indeed people who have intellectual disabilities, which is completely wrong and completely nonsense and, I'm very harmful and damaging and dehumanizing, and I thought that was a real yeah, those moments, that was a real off moment. It's interesting. I was doing a little bit bit of research into the film and the the role of Ben Rand, who is played by Melvin Douglas, who actually Melvin Douchlas one what an Oscar for this, for this performance, which I thought was quite surprised because I didn't think it was all that good anyway, that a role was offered to Laurence Olivier and Larasivia read the script and he read that masturbation scene and he said no, I'm not doing it, I don't want to do it because of that masturbation scene. So play to what Lauren's Olivia. He saw something nobody else did. That doesn't surprise me at all and I agree that that scene is perhaps one the most problematic moments in the film. But apart from those months, I do feel that most of the film is poking fun at the elite, the upper classes, rather than chance. As Chris mentioned earlier. People interpret his statements as metaphors and that's not down to any fault of chance. It's there people he's interacting with and his few words are taken to be profound because I suppose his answers are so on into unexpected and people looking for a deeper meaning and something that isn't necessarily there. And I do think that he's a fascinating characters, such an endearing person from very early on in the film as that connection there, you are rooting for chance and I think when he first leaves the house, although some people may see it as a opportunity for the comedy to start, I for one was concerned. I was wondering how is he going to cope, how is he going to survive in the world, and I thought it was an excellent touch by Ashby to use the same music that is used in two thousand and one as chance leaves the house, and wondering if that had the same comedic connection for you, David, or whether you felt that that was a bit out of place. What are your thoughts on the use of that music? Yeah, first, when that music came out, I was like, Oh, this is delightful. What it what a what a surprise, because it's kind of a sort of sort of Funky jazz disco version of the also Sprat Zara throughst and music from two thousand and one, which is that Dur D du Bupa. I'm glad to give us a little, little little rendition just in case. That one, the famous one, do as the one and and I was the same as you tom that like yeah, once he emerges, I actually was, from the House, and starts walking through the street and he's wearing his suits and he's very neat and it's carrying his case and he's got his little bowler hat on, etc. And I thought, oh no, here goes at a kind of naive person who doesn't know how to look after himself out into the big wider world and is going to really struggle. Actually, I thought something bad was going to happen to him, and so for me that that music kind of didn't didn't convey that really and actually, in the end the only bad thing that happens to him as he gets accidentally knocked into by a liberty. Well, he gets sort of threatened by a street gang, but that doesn't seem to affect him particularly very much, and then he gets knocked into by Eve's limousine and hurts his leg. So he ends up not really getting into too much of a tricky situation. But one of the things that that piece of music, choice of music, does is it kind of turns in a way, turns chance into this kind of alien figure. This is one of the things that I've been particularly interested in. As I mentioned earlier on, I my researchers as mostly focused on science fiction and how science fiction and and fantasy to it to a certain extent, how they interact with autistic ways of being, and it's a fascinating rabbit hole that I want dive too far down into, but it is worth saying that it's quite common to find autistic characters being kind of associated with with sci fi and with particularly with being an alien or with being an other being, a kind of fantastical almost like a fantastical creature from another world in a way. And actually it's mentioning Mr Bean earlier on. Mr Beans are...

...similar one, because Mr Bean, that the idea brand Mr Been, that is he is an alien or an angel that has been sent down from from somewhere, and so for me, this this moment where you sort of invoke two thousand and one space odyssey, almost gives him a bit of a kind of other worldly existence really. And then later on he is he finds himself in front of a window which has got a big TV screen in it, which look must look extremely modern back in those days, because it's like a video camera that's set up that's pointing at the street and that camera is feeding to a screen which shows what happens on the street. So anyone who walks past can see themselves on the screen, and chances fascinated by this because he loves television. He carries a remote control around with him everywhere. He's always wanting to be in front of a TV screen and he's now seeing himself on this screen. But what's interesting about that moment is that in the background of that screen there is a kind of moonset, so it's sort of makes him look as if he's almost playing around on a screen on the moon in a way, and it's very it's quite A. I thought it's quite a remarkable shot at quite a remarkable construction, but it also gives him that kind of other worldliness and of course that one of the things about chances that later on various people try and figure out who he is and what is background is very secret. Service agents and journalists and so on are trying to find out, you know, get the background on him, and nobody can find anything about him. There's no record of him anywhere and actually we as viewers never really find out much about his background either. It remains this kind of enigma character. So in a way that all battle contributes to the construction of him as this kind of other worldly figure, which is problematic because if you start to project autistic and Eurodivident people as being alien and other worldly, it's not too far off a step then to sort of say that they're effectively not human and not, you know, not a normal part of the human race necessarily, and that can lead to, you know, very problematic areas. Really interesting take for sure. David actually had that opposite. The reaction to that the then when he steps out to office home for the first time, and the music and dozen one this worked into this very different rhythm, but it's still sortally niceable, and that is that the world is alien rather than him, when I guess the MD resalt might be very much to say that he is different from the rest, but I think that, at least in terms of how the movie shoots it, the world is what's strange and the world is what's alien in a lot of ways. And I think it is especially interesting here that, given that the film ends up dwelling in so much wealth and power and talking about what you brought up earlier about how autistic representation is often done with people from, you know, the mid upper middle class, upper middle class or the ruling classes, Ceter people with a lot of wealth. The film actually has some commentary there as well, which I thought was interesting. Can undercuts that point, or rather makes it part of its own point when shance walks out into the streets and you see, you know, complete poverty this streets round. It's in a lovely home, has turned into a fairly poor neighborhood. He walks past several people who are quite likely homeless, picking up trash from the streets, etc. And it's also largely black neighborhood. And I think there's two comments. Actually it throughout. So almost everyone seance interact with later in the film are white upper class people and this is the malleure that almost crowns him as their messiah of Sorg. But you have this scene early on when he's walking through this black neighborhood and you see this line with none a war, which I didn't pick up the first time I saw it, but I picked it up now. I don't everrect it exact phrasing, but I think it was that, essentially, what's wrong with the US is that the white man has a god complex. And given that big line written on the wall when he walks past the in the opening and how the film ends, which I'm not sure we want to spoil yet, that that seems quite remarkable. And then you also have this one cut the way when he's actually not notice seeing himself in television in the store window, but it is actually brought in, like you mentioned earlier, to a talk show set and is treated very seriously and you know it gains all of this reputability and fame. He is old maid, who is the Black Woman, watches and she comments literally on how it's so easy for white people and they know how this, this chance, it doesn't actually have any of this relevant background. Some of us, we said to keep interpreted be very mean about him and his abilities as well, but essentially points out that if you're white, everything can go well for you, no matter what. So so I think...

...it's really interesting that the film, that focus is so much and privilege, does shut that in and it does make me think that the film, in terms of being a satire, may very easily be mainly focused on making their rich and powerful look silly and vacuous, that what they say is mainly you know, they didn't actually speak to people's concerns, or what they speak is all the metaphors are silly. They are so silly that you know, no matter what you say and they think can be interpreted as powerful and as insightful, and that's the stage the media and this this group of people are are in right now, and that is perhaps a very powerful point and a very poignant point. But I also think that, going back to mean spiritedness, that does kind of expends how you see chance. But let be that he's just an innocent who with mistaken into all of this. But it does, if it is the point of this film, that the ruling class is vacuous and stupid and greedy, etc. There's a way to read that as still relatively nice to chance, in the sense that he is just earnest and what is saying is being understood as grand or it is saying that this ruling class is so stupid that they, you know, site this person as their potential leader with a this kind of underlying message. That's seance is a problem in himself, portraying him as the idiot, if you will, and and that, like you said, mentioned earlier, that can be quite quite problematic and mean spirited just in itself, that he is this character that's used to show their their idiocy, which reflects back on him. So that's why I've have a really complicated relationship with the film. I think it at least tries to make some quite poignant points. It's a couple of things that you've mentioned, Christ with Roll and mine commenting on what a NIM is. They are same with my watch him and TV and I think in them to basic humor. That's one of the better scenes, because the humors coming from her reaction to what's on TV rather than, you know, Chat. You know not in staining of the gay person wants to have sex with him. So I think it's one of the better humorous scenes. But then what she says to describe and she says he's got rice putting between his ears. You know, it's just one of those things where it's just like another like nasty comment that you don't really need to have in there. And in terms of whether the film is about the rich ruling class being stupid or not, I mean I guess, you know, maybe that's a general picture. But then he've got like then the character played by Melvin Douglas. He is an awesome character, is such a great human being with such like a realistic look and outlook on life and death. I think it's really misguided. I don't know. It's just seems a bit wrong to me to try and like paint him as being stupid, and yet he's the one who misinterprets the most of what chant says or reads into it most beyond what he's saying, like things like the room upstairs and whatever. But I think with the whole like satire for me doesn't quite work for me because a lot of it's so coincident based. Like he has to sneeze right that time he tells eve his name. The he happens to live upstairs. He's able to talk about that room upstairs. The film's just build a lot of things and the things the characters read into it about the guard and everything is just like such an extreme and, I guess I'd say, kind of ridiculous interpretation that I don't really see it as particularly credible. So I guess from my point of view that Lam coming out and sort of like, you know, it's all about it being really funny, that this stuff would he's saying can be misinterpret even though in no realistic situation would this be interpreted in a realistic situation or any would nobody else other than the made pick up on the fact that he is on the spectrum all these new idverse. So there's just a whole lot of, I guess, lack of realism in there, which I guess is never the ultimate be all it end or with a film. But if a film's trying to say some really, you know, important points about, you know, society and you know, I guess, the way the art ruling classes work or whatever. I guess to me or whatever, I repelled a little bit more realism rather than ridiculousness in there. Yeah, well, I would agree with a lot of what you're saying. They're so definitely and he's sort of this kind of why is idiot character in a ways, the way they sort of kind of pitch him and cast him, and I think you're you're right that a lot of the satire does rely upon these kind of coincidental moments and this almost deliberate misinterpretation of the things that he's saying, and sometimes that feels like it works and at other times it goes to lengths that are too ridiculous. And actually I did catch myself off and thinking, you know, if this was a real life he situation, if this character was kind of a real person, he wouldn't get this far. And they in reality, people who are autistic or who have...

...learning difficulties of subkind are seen as a problem and are seen as disordered and that and that is recognized very quickly and people get very uncomfortable around people like this and their assumptions are that this person should be locked away somewhere or should be in an institution or an asylum. And that's the realistic situation for people who are nearro divergent and particularly autistic people. So it feels like this kind of, I don't know, sort of mythical idea that that's a character like this would not get instantaneously recognized and sort of placed into institution. But one of the things I wanted to pick up on you are saying Chris earlier about when he's wandering around and he's passing kind of the the homeless population near to where he lives and so and I think that's a really good insight actually. I think that, yeah, the the use of the two thousand and one music to suggest that the world is the strange place, that the other the kind of alien planet in a way, is an interesting way of seeing it and I would definitely agree with some of that. And there is, at that point as well, quite a remarkable shot where chance is walking up the sender reserve of a dual carriageway. It's a really interesting shot because in the background is the capital Dome and he's sort of walking very gradually up towards this dome and there's I think there's a real pointed construction being made there in that in that image, the relationship between the powerful and the kind of common man in a way. And one of the things that made me think about was looking at this from a point of view of autism, is that it made me think, well, this maybe could be seen as a reflection on how society ignores to certain people in its in its community, and how it's sort of prefers to shut away the neurodivergent and the autistic and prefers them to be behind closed doors and away from polite society. And of course later no one will recognize chance as a neurodivigent figure because they're more interested in him fitting into their kind of eurotypical elitist world. And so, taken in that way, we could perhaps see the film as a kind of reflection on, yeah, how autistic, in your new division people, historically and to some extent in the present day, are pushed aside and there's a kind of blind spot in the in our society where where these people exist, and therefore it's it's kind of tragic then that when one of them tries to incorporate become part of society, it's it's handled in a way that's uncomfortable or is a satirical or is unrealistic and is, yeah, and I think it's just maybe quite an interesting reflection on how we sort of tend to to package away or ignore these kinds of people in our society and still do in many ways. That just like to link into what soul was saying about the coincidental humor, and I just want to explore how chance rises so far in public esteem mainly due to Ben's endorsement of him, because been absolutely adores chance. From the moment he arrives on the scene. He sees him, as you know, this refreshing person with a unique perspective on life, and I think that, for instance, when chance is introduced to the president, the president is uncertain of him, but he doesn't want to raise any questions or doubt because Ben is in such high esteem he doesn't want to embarrass him and he comes on. The peasant comes on board and supports chance, and I think that's quite a powerful moment in the film because it's basically saying that success isn't what you know, it's who you know, because we're well aware that chance has come from this background where he doesn't have a education, no experience in business or politics, he can't read or write. Yet he's given this platform because as of what we've all mentioned earlier on his appearance is his politeness. He comes across so will and I think that's a very powerful moment in the film that really shapes where he goes to towards the end of the film as well. Yeah, absolutely agree with that, Tom I think you're right. I think that's probably one of the neatest things about the film is that it shows that that in these elite holes of power, is who you know and who you can sort of get friendly with, who can very quickly advance your position, and it does so with chance in ways that are well, I think. I from one of the things that fascinated about the film is it's in ways that are kind of ridiculous but almost, almost believable. Like it. The way in which it's handled is like, yeah, I can I can see how somebody like...

Ben thinks that that chances is a wonderful and wise and refreshing figure, because he's probably surrounded constantly by people who would just lying to him or using empty rhetoric or are using who I mean, there is a I think there is something in the will get to the ending in a bit, I suppose, but there is something in the speech that the president reads a Ben's funeral at the end, which is about been talking about how he's he's always been surrounded by people who are who are a bit false around him, and so then in walks chance, who doesn't have any falseness at all and is just very happy and content and as long as he's got a television and he's able to sort of make his way through conversation in the way that he's kind of helped along with with conversations, then eat yeah, suddenly does prevent present this quite refreshing figure for Ben, who is all the way through the film is on the verge of dying. He's very ill and and is having to have blood transfusions and all sorts of things, and always comes in as this sort of Ray of light for his life, which is quite nice really and kind of kind of uplifting in a way. And chance also has a similar relationship with Eve, who clearly has so eve is eve is Ben's wife, but she starts to fall for chance and been recognizes this and he sort of gives her his blessing for her to continue on with a you know, to sort of pursue a relationship with with chance. And so in a way that's nice that there's there's an element of this which is like, okay, neurodivergent people, autistic people, can factor into people's lives because they can be refreshingly different to the normal in a way, and that that can be of benefit and can be an element towards friendship and towards genuine affection. And so there is a way in which you can sort of spin all this and sort of think, yeah, that that's quite nice. But of course, behind all of this is the privilege of the fact that chance presents in the way that he does, very smartly dressed, very well spoken, very inoffensive, very pure innocent, which again is another classic stereotypical trope of the autistic figure, of this person who is pure and innocent and has and is generally just simple minded and just likes the simple things in life, which again is not a not necessarily and accurate reflection of how cystic people are in real life, course. But nevertheless there is what we would call what I would call in it in my fancy academic world, has cross neuro type collaboration, a cross neuro type friendship in here, which is quite a valuable thing to do. And I think again about about rain man and one of the things that happens in Raymond constantly. Fair people are familiar with that film. It's, you know, Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise plays a character called Charlie and rain man, or Raymond, played by distant Hospan, is his autistic brother. And constantly all the way through that film Charlie is just so angry at Raymond all the time and it's kind of disheartening and dispiriting to watch. It does come around to him towards the end and that's the whole point of that film. But it's heart it's hard to watch these two brothers not getting on really, whereas in here you've got friendship which is quite which is quite important, I think. I think that's love the sentiment. But the one thing that kind of broke that down, or for me, is that it's not the case that these characters are having a straightforward conversation with each other, where you though they're learning from each other and taking whether it they're they're saying on board both sides service understanding is and Shit. Every single thing said to do the other. That is the basis of the car with yours out there is a ray that is actually every single interaction throughout chance is all. For instance, he's skin newingly just speaking about room upstairs where he's skin in up. He's he's not that. That's it. He's clear that he doesn't understand the questions he's being asked. So it's not just that the neurotypical people misunderstand him and read things into what he's saying. He's misunderstanding them at every point as well, and some of that is valuable. That's something that obviously can be quite real as well. But I'm not sure friendship can really be built on either character understanding anything the other person said. If it was these people sharing their perspective in some way or chance actually understanding what they were saying and using the garden as an actual allegory to what this bringing it to something simple that he understands, then I think the film would have a slightly different meaning. But that's not the case at all. He is genuinely just thinking about the garden. He's not really responding to what they're saying we at least as my interpretation. So that's where I kind of feel like these friendships in the romance, as with therough out a little bit within this film. Yeah, no, I I think you're absolutely right there. Definitely, I think that's yeah, the their friendship,...

...such as friendships on all of the sides, are very one directional in many ways, although it clearly is meaningful for chance as well. At one of the the moments I quite appreciated, I'm quite liked, was the moment when we get to bend's death and chance is there with Ben when he dies and you get this reverse shot of chance looking down and he's got tears in his eyes and he's kind of mourning that the passing of this person and who has become his friend, and I thought that was a good thing and an important thing as well because again, one of the one of the misconceptions about autistic people is this this very insidious theory and idea that the autistic people lack empathy or don't have empathy or not empathetic, which is a longstanding and very problematic myth around or autism that has been in some respects kind of backed up by scientific research, which is now being completely debunked and completely overwritten. But this idea that the yeah, the autistic people don't feel empathy or don't or lack the ability to feel empathy, is nonsense, and it was nice to see that moment actually when chance is moved to tears by that, by the death of Ben, which was which was good. But you're right as well that the friendship relationship between these people is built upon misunderstanding and miscommunication, is probably their forums and step unsustainable and is also directed almost entirely towards the neurotypicals. One of the things I wanted to mention again, which is something that is common to autism films and autistic characters and actually, more widely, to films about disability, is this this theory that it's that is often talked about within disability studies, which is called Narrative prosthesis, which is this idea that a disabled figure or disabled character in a film or in a book, whatever it is, only really exists in that narrative in order to be a kind of a prop or a prosthesis for the neurotypical characters. And and again, Raymond's a very good example of this, because really the only reason why Raymond, the autistic character in Raymond, exists is to be a kind of moral to sort of help Tom cruises character, Charlie, to understand how to be a better person in the world. And as soon as as soon as Charlie has understood that, he's you know, Raymond has served his purpose in his packed back into the into the institution again at the end. And so you know, there's this idea of narratives for thesis, which is the kind of very common position that disabled figures occupy in films and in in literature, and I think we see that here as well. Really the kind of the only reason that the chance sort of exists is to be this this prop for these various realizations of these these these new typical characters, although here that is done in a way that has been is far more satirical. I was going to jump in on Ray man because I know it keeps getting bagged in this podcast, but I think what you've said, David, does pretty much cover my feelings for it, but I guess in a slightly more positive way. In the first time I saw a man I wasn't too big on it, but the second third time I watched them I started to see it more about as being about Tom Cruiser's character rather than Dustin Hoppin's character, and I know that's not great in terms of representation and we do want more positive representation of Peoplean the uts and spectrum and film, but I don't think the story was ever the story about Dustin Hopman character in so much as I think is more of a supporting character in the tail and therefore I guess, yeah, it is more about the neurotypical brother learning to, you know, Cope whatever. I live with the fact that it's got an autistic brother. So yeah, I don't know. Look, I'm not as negative on the film as I was on recently watch, but that's just because I guess really like the umahole character. Are that the Tom Cruise character goes through? I mean, yes, it does mean that an autistic person's used of the prop and that's not great, but I guess, yeah, I don't know. I mean, like you said, like the history of autism and film, there isn't a lot of it where it's specifically mentioned or whatever. A lot of it is films like being there or films like forest gum or films like the infinite man, which is this awesome Australian sci fi comedy with an artistic character but it's never mentioned. So it's stuff like that. Whenever actually get specifically mentioned, just a quickly, a drop on nicely. This is. So I think it's a really interesting phenomenon. This but yeah, they're sort of the word autism being kind of avoided by particular films that have all clearly have autistic characters in them. You see this time and time again. There's a film actually's just sitting here on my desk at the moment because I was writing about it recently. Is the film called please stand by, which came about not so long ago, few years ago, starring Dakota fanning as an autistic woman. I mean it's a mixed bag of a film in many ways, but one of the things about that, the is that she's clearly autistic and no point does any...

...character in the whole film say the they a word like this, this real avoidance of saying the a word or even on the spectrum or aspergers or any of the kind of other euphemisms that you often get for autism, and it's a curious phenomenon. It's like the word autism is a kind of taboo that that must not be spoken or it must be sort of danced around a little bit. And again that's one of the things that a lot of autistic activists are trying to fight against really because they want you know, a lot of people are saying that autism is a very fundamental part of an individual, who an individual is, and therefore it's part and parcel of their identity and they're proud of it. That very much so. and and therefore we shouldn't really dance around the issue with autism. We should be bit out and proud about it and, you know, own it a little bit. So it's a curious phenomenon. We often see that happening. It is kind of interesting with year autism there's more often spoked about. It's more coded, I guess, like homosexual and he was quoted. A lot of early films now explicitly mentioned. But in terms of autism representations, I think one of the big himpering blocks, and I've not seen the film, but seeers film, music and a lot of the controversy, you know, yeah, casting somebody who's not and you're a divergent in a you're a divergent role, caused more controversy. So I don't know, you do see it as problematic when people who are on the spectrum by act may characters are on the spectrum, because that's obviously going to impede little bit films being made if we are in a position where and sisting that autistic people must be applying autistic characters. So under changed it in your take on there and with you think that's a necessity in order to get a better representation of what of Autism on film? Really interesting question. That soul really interesting question. It is a question that we come across a lot during the autism three cinema podcast and it's something we've considered a lot as well. It's fascinating one really because, yeah, see that the film Bas the musician sea, which is called music, which came out last year or year before very recent cause or an awful lot of controversy, because I haven't seen it. I've seen clips of it, but I've actually sort of deliberately not watched it, although we did cover it in our podcast and one of our regular host sat down and watched it and hate it and and that film is it's the main problem with seers music. Is that the character of music. Yeah, she was played by a non autistic actor and was also it was also seen to be a massive caricature of autism and there were lots of problematic scenes in that. There's one scene where music is having a meltdown in the middle of a park and one of the other characters basically just like sits on her and and and stops her from having this meltdown, and that is really bad practice. It is really not are you supposed to deal with situations like that and it's can be very, very dangerous. So that was a very messy, very problematic film many ways. But as to the question as should just autistic characters play autistic actors, I mean this is a question that it's asked of like disabled characters more broadly anyway in film and is still a very big problem and is still an issue with in terms of representation. For me, I haven't I don't know. I think find it interesting. I do think that there is room for non autistic actors to play autistic characters who I think it has been done and it has been done quite well in some respects, and I might mention a couple of examples at some point. But yes, there is an increased need definitely for autistic actors to be present and be playing autistic characters, and I think that results in probably are more interesting and more honest film as a film called keep the change, which we've covered on our podcast, where they make the deliberate choice to cast nonprofessional autistic actors in that film playing autistic characters, and it's refreshing to watch. It's really refreshing to watch and and also there. But yeah, one of the things, as you say, so you know that it does seem like they're off quite few autistic actors out there, although I will make a bit of a prediction here, and I think that more and more will start to emerge and more and more actors out there will start to say that they're autistic, and we're seeing this happen more and more often. More and more figures in celebrities and so on are coming out as autostick in a way, and there are a handful. Anthony Hopkins is autistic and people often don't know this, but he is. He's has a kind of diagnosis of asperger's, but that is, you know, a full form of autism, and so he's that kind of been quite out and honest about this. And of course Hopkins has had a history of of playing neuro diversion characters. Suppose, if you could say that in terms of Hannibal Lect, I don't know. But yeah, and so, you know, maybe there's a potential there for Anthony Hopkins to do a wonderful performances as autism at some point. There's also Paddy Constantine, the...

...the British actor. He's Auth autistic. So and what'so named from? Oh, just forgotten her name from, and she's from blade runner. Place Priss in blade runner. Oh, Hannah. Yeah, Daryl Hannah. That's it. Okay. So, yeah, and Daryl Hannah as well is autistic. So there are a few and I think there will be some more and I think it will be interesting, therefore, if at some point somebody you know, writes a film about autism and can actually cast an autistic acter. I think that will be an important milestone. But yeah, really interesting question, Solon one that's very complex and actually there's sorry, I keep thinking of other things, but there's an't there's another thing to say about this. One of the films we covered in the podcast was the film good time by the safty brothers, which figure, which features a character in there who is again not, you know, not diagnosis autistic called screen but seems to have autistic traits and was played by an nautistic actor. was actually one of the one of the one of the directors, and there was a interesting debate around that film because the Safti Brothers said that they wanted to cast and actually an a neurodivision actor in that role, but they felt in the end that the filming of that film, which is a very intense action film, would have been too stressful for an actor to a neurodivigon actor with learning difficulties to cope with. And actually so there was a kind of there was an element there of them being careful and being gentle around what the needs of that? Now we could argue, of course, that yeah, we should be making film sets more accessible and and you know who we to suggest that? Maybe, you know, we can find neurodivision actors who can cope with these situations. But in another sense, you know, if you don't want Robert, if you don't want to have a film where films Filming Situation Where Robert Patterson is screaming in your face and that would be very, very stressful for an actor, then fair enough in a way. So yeah, there's complications in nuances to that. I think. I wonder if you should talk about the ending of this film of being there, because it's quite an interesting and unusual ending and I'm interested to hear what other people think about it. Just to play so it just to sort of explain what happens in the courses. Is a bit of a spoiler, but spoiler warning. At the end chance and Eve are at the funeral of Ben who has died, and he he sort of wanders away from from the funeral proceedings as the president is reading this speech about about Ben and he sort of wanders kind of quite happily through the woods and then he ends up next to a lake and you can see the mansion in the background and then suddenly he just sorts walking out into the lake and he ends up walking on the surface of the water and it's really interesting and unusual, I think, and I'm interested to see what people's take on that. That moment was first time around, David, I didn't actually think that much of the end and I wasn't taken with it, but on second viewing I really appreciated what actually did with the ending there. Now I want to just go back over the film and discuss some of the religious symbolism that it's present throughout, and I think it's quite ironic in a way, because here I am searching for metaphors and meaning in the film, just like the newer typicals are searching for meaning in chances dialog, and I wonder whether that's intentional by Ashby. But one of the meanings that I read about, which I think is a bit of a stretch, but I'd just like to go over it, is that chance is basically a metaphor for Adam, who's cast out to the garden of Eden. And this actually makes sense and validates the scene that we all found the most awkward, which is where chance is tempted by Eve, but he resists and because of that he gains his divinity and that is why he's able to walk on water at the end of the film. And I do like that interpretation, but I have my own slightly different religious interpretation, which kind of links back into chance and Ben and their friendship and this fact that Ben basically gives the world chance. If it wasn't for been, the world would of experienced chance or he wouldn't have had this reputation and fame. So I have this interpretation that is also kind of match by the end when Ben Dies and he's carried away to his grave and we see on the top of it there's the I've Providence, the the FREEMASON's symbol, but it's also a...

...symbol of the divine eye and God. disinterpretation that Ben could be seen as God and he's given chance the world who's Jesus, and this is kind of cemented by the fact that he performs a miracle at the end. Is viewed as some kind of Davia. Even by the people who are carrying been to his grave. They're talking about chance being someone that they're going to look to in the future and can potentially save the business and perhaps even save the political party because he could be a good candidate for president. So I think there's quite a few ten uares links there, but I always like trying to unpack the films and into put different meanings. So be interested to see if anyone else agrees with me or disagrees or what you think on those perspectives. Yeah, there's a lot of religious symbolism in being there and definitely with Ben's wife being bored even so on. So it's definitely there's definitely presently ending myself. Yeah, look, I've seen it six times now and I guess it's reached the point where I'm either not worried about figuring out or if it does figure as anything, I'm just introvert as being in chance as mind. I mean, I know he does like put his umbrella down to just check how deep the water is, and yes, that is deep and he's walking on it, but I don't really see it as being, you know, part of the film's reality. And then what happens after that, while that just completely destroys the film for me, we could talk about that afterwards. Yeah, yeah, I think that your interpretation their Tom is really fascinating actually, and the more you think about the religious connotations of it, the more it's the more kind of unpacking it is quite a quite a fun exercise. Like to maybe think of his garden at the beginning as the kind of garden of Eden in a way, or just his pretty, you know, his love of being with gardens as is a represent is of Garden of Eden. I think. I think the more you think about that, the more that becomes clear that that's probably intentional by Ashby and there's there's clear religious connotations there. One of the things I did notice is that there was some quite a couple of quite fairly still subtle moments where when chance has a kind of breakthrough or a chance has a kind of a very positive moment, it seems to sort of unseat the people that the kind of authorities that he's relying upon. The present has come to meet with with Ben and and has ended up talking as well with chance, and the present has been sort of wooed around to chances kind of philosophy as he sees it. And then chance and sorry, the president, then is making a speech and uses chances garden metaphor in his speech and says, you know, I met my good friend of Ben's called Johncy Gardner, and he said this and he gave this speech about this garden, etc. And it's this massive moment. And it's interesting about that moment is that they're watching that happening on TV and that at that moment suddenly been starts coughing and spluttering and almost looks like he's about to collapse or die at that point and there's a sense that actually that chances sort of elevation towards becoming the president's guru or the president's friend. Unseats been and then later we get chance appearing on the chat show and he's got an audience of millions suddenly and he's reaching more people in the president could ever hope to reach and he's starting to and there's a question that's this asked that that chance answers is a kind of sounds like it might be a metaphor for thinking about getting rid of the president, as if the president was a weed that's wilted or is is not good for the garden at this point, and that at that point the president loses his sexual appetite. So we see the president watching him on television and he's got his wife with him and at that point he, the president, gets very troubled and can't seem to perform. So there's this curious sort of power, almost this kind of magical power, that chance has that he doesn't seem to realize that he has. That whenever he takes a step further up in the kind of public imagination, it's sort of illn seats the people that come before him. So there is a kind of mythical magical aurator in there in terms of how I reacted to the ending. I I didn't know about the ending coming into the film, which was always nice. It's always nice to be surprised. I'm a real sucker for things like this. I just think they're wonderful and lovely, especially when they come at the end and there's just sort of like so unexpected. And Yeah, you can certainly, as you said, soul you could see it as a being completely enchance his mind because there's no other characters around at that point it, or you could see it, as you know, a fulfillment of chance, as a sort of messianic figure. Thinking of him as an autistic character. Of course, as I was mentioning before about the other and the supernatural and being kind of an alien and so on, this is very com and when associated with associated with autistic characters,...

...and this only adds to that. He is this pure and beautiful, innocent character who is, by virtue of his disability, is free and innocent and to the extent that he is actually the Messiah and can walk on water and can do miracles and so on, and is problematic because that's not realistic in terms of autism. But Tallix said that I quite liked that moment where he walks out onto the lake. It's handled in a really gentle way. It's not. It's quite a surprise. I love the way he puts the umbrella in and pulls it out. I did have a smile on my face, I must admit, when I was watching that happen. I thought it was really nice. But yeah, I do agree with you. saw it was then ruined by the the the bit that comes immediately after that as the titles roll. But yeah, but, Chris, what did you make of the ending? See, I have many similar thoughts to the both of you, and I think, just on the topic off the end credits specifically, as you brought it up, Peter Zellers was actually furious when he saw that at the premier and the God it changed. So a lot of later releases does not have that, which I think it's a very vice choice because it does feels completely out of place. One of the things that I have an issue with with this film, and that it's also with the ending, is that the messaging, it's not really clear or gone or concise. No, that can be really powerful in itself and think there's several elements there that that's excited because he stops you. You talk about it and you try to investigate it, like is he just walking on shallow water and is sticking his umbrella down just to see is it deeper here, or is it again doingly that he is a magical creature. I think the film likes to play with that. But but, like I mentioned earlier, the film is very tonally's bars. It's a little bit Fili is. The film is not like those cut scenes at the end. The film is fairly quiet, like you mentioned earlier, Gentle Melancholic, and then you have this very almost poignant moment when he walks across the water and there's so much you can read into that and then, like I say, it just cuts to these gag scenes. It feels like it's for a very different film, not just in terms of the impression that it might be mocking the character, but it just feels so out of place. And I think that is my main takeaway noticed from the ending with the whole film, that I like it. It's clear that it's critiquing ruling class in some way. I mean literally, rand is taken into a pyramid. Wait, you know, eliminati symbols. It's really it gets really over the top in that funeral scene him particular, and you know, France is just having this complete rise to you know, they're absolute power. But I caned don't know how I feel about the ending because I don't know what is trying to say. I don't know what what the endgame is here, what it's saying about France, what is saying about the society. We get that it's critiquing, like I said, rigon powerful and they're like, from my perspective at least, their philosophy of essentially just, I suppose, just power and the fact that what they are saying, the worst they're using, are so removed from reality in some ways, or the creating roll reality so that anything chance does or says can instantly be interpreted as powerful. But again, like that ending, what it says about France, what it says about his future, what the film is trying to say, it feels really up in the air. So I'm just really conflicted about it. Like what what do you think the ending actually means? Yeah, that's good question. What does it actually mean? And that is a good question. I wonder if it's a wonder if potentially. It's all part and parcel of the continuation of the satire. You know, what's just happening at that point is that the pole bearers who were carrying been to the to the yeah, to the Illuminati Pyramid, which it was a strange choice, but yeah, it was there. And they are discussing. They just date. They're basically like the kind of the and then not quite sort of identified who they are, but they're sort of a thinking makers. Yes, yes, they can make as they there powerful the elite, and they are having this discussion about who the next president should be and they're throwing out a few names and then eventually one of them says chance and they're like, oh, yeah, that's a great idea because he's great. And so then, you know, it's got to this ultimate point where the satis got to the point where it's saying, and now chance is going to be president. I mean it's got that ridiculous that he's gone through this sequence and only been there for like a week or what, however...

...it many days it is. And then and so wondering if him walking on water and becoming this Messiah is just the next extent of that ridiculousness of that. Yes, progression. You know, they think they've seen this. It's another poke at the rich and the elite and the pulp to say they think this guy is their savior. They literally think he's the most wonderful thing on the planet, and so is a perhaps an extension of that. But I mean there are various ways in which it could be interpreted. I guess I did just want to pick up on the another thing, which actually relates to something that soul mentioned earlier. Question that. So I'll last earlier about that credit role where Peter Sellers. So he's it's a from an earlier scene in the film and he's trying to say a particular piece of dialog and he keeps breaking, keeps cracking up, and creeps laughing and people around and keep laughing. It's a kind of a blooper real really. And how. Yeah, I also read that Solo was very angry about this being included. He actually even blamed this particular blooper real scene at the credits. He blamed that for the reason why he didn't get the Oscar that he was nominated for for this film. But what this interestingly relates to is Peter Sellers as an actor really and how, apparently he for this film. He, whilst filming it, embodied chance all the time on set, like he kept away from the other actors, he was always in character. He sort of declined interviews and things like that. While he was filming this film he went full method actor on a and went fully into the world of chance and became really became him absolutely and fully. And I don't know how much people know about Peter Sellers his life, but I did a little bit of a research on this just to see if anyone had ever associated Peter Sellers with with autism. And yes, of course, Lo and behold, there are people on the Internet who have gone or Peter Sellers might have been autistic, which is a common thing that you find for any kind of major figure in our in our kind of cultural history who was being in some way unusual. But he was. Peter sells was, it's kind of plagued with the depression and anger and mood swings and all sorts of other things. Apparently was quite a difficult person to work within many ways and a part of me wonders whether there might have been some sort of neuro divergence happening for Peter Sellers and wonder therefore, whether that's, as we were talking about with Solo earlier on, a in terms of, you know, casting autistic actors in autistic roles. I wonder whether there is some connection there between Peter Sellers as a person and this put on, this character that he ends up performing as. And it was sellers who really pushed forward for this film. He read the original book that this film was based on and he was very keen to get it made into a film and he sort of brought hall Ashby on board as well to do the film. So you know, there's clearly some connection, I think that sellers felt with with this character. Yeah, he was fair to get it made for a Bo the dicid almost before he actually got together the funding. So it's clear this was a big passion project for him and it's something he really felt that he needed to do. Yeah, which is interesting. Be Interesting to know exactly why and what it is about chance as a character that he connected with them. Maybe there was some kind of kinship there. I mean this is speculation. We don't know for sure and he might written about this or someone might know more. More about this somewhere, but from a kind of cursory bit of research on this, yeah, it does seem as if sellers clearly had some sort of connection there. So I might just mention with the gag real because I did actually alluded to earlier on. After the walking on water, the Guy Reel is really what, you know, sets the film back a little bit for me. I guess it's over to interpretation little bit. One of my followers are letter box, and his reviews said, you know, the reason why? Is a guy revealed in there, because how Ashby wants us to keep laughing like through out or whatever, and wants us to like and, you know, a positive knowing. I keep laughing through it, but I guess the way that I interpret it was sort of, I guess, similar to Doctor Strange lab and mishining. All of us here have seen doctor strange lab and like remember the ending and it's got like this iconic scene with slim piggins and that should have been the end of the film. The instead Kuber lets peter sellers harm it up for five minutes more. It goes completely over the top. For no other reason then you know, Kubrick thought like sis was like completely esterical. So my interpretation of it is, I'd say, how Ashby thought the same thing sorts. Sellers is just such a funny actor I just have to include this in there if it doesn't quite fit into the film. So I don't know, maybe it's me reading into much, maybe it's just the fact that I only re watched after strange love or couple of months before sitting down and watching being there, but I'm just just shaking my head. Going on, this is just another director who thinks sellers as...

...is sterical and just just putting too much of him in there where it doesn't need actually be in there. Yeah, total idolizing of him. Absolutely. I totally agree with that, and I think sellers probably was very angry because, you know, if he'd been trying to maintain this character of chance all the way through the filming and this maybe was one of the moments where he couldn't do that Cuz he kept breaking into laughter, was probably quite embarrassing for him. A Lee was very angry for that reason. It's also we're noting as well. It's quite uncomfortable to watch because the speech that he's giving that point is this he's trying to replicate what the the kind of black gang leader had said to him, and so it's like a it's a hot no, it's just quite uncofortable to which this upperclass white man trying to emulate a black voice, which I think is, you know, these days would be what looked at as quite problematic, not not to mention that the assumes the black doctor automatically. I know the Kang. Yeah, it's that kind of street talk, kind of Vibe, which is, yeah, tricky and he's interesting to say that like that scene which clearly they took pains to film and for Pete Cells to say, actually doesn't end up in the main film. There's no, he doesn't actually make that speech. I don't think at any point he does have a conversation with a black nurse, but that that particular part of the speech doesn't actually make the cut in the end, which is quite interesting to see. Maybe they never got it right, maybe they just kept laughing. There's anyone else have any opinions on the meaning of the film itself and what the overall message of the film was? Well, no, then, if they're enough. So, yeah, I think we're all equally perplexed, it seems. Yeah, I think we're all stumped. I think you're right, because I think it was overly complicated. Well, in a way that's good. No, I mean it's all has seen this movie five, six times already, and I think maybe people just need to keep seeing it. The right about it and I think there is something really good which films that chooses to be not that clear, because it forces you doing each more. But yet my takeaway is that the film perhaps was a little confused itself as well. But be that as it may, they would it's been an absolute the light having you on the show and they're getting your insight on being there. So, before you leave us, we wanted to tell us a little bit more about the autism through the CINDEMA. And there's how what you do, you guys do, compared to what we do here and like what's this episode? Very different from the type of episodes you usually may yeah, thanks, Chris, and I suppose the main disference to pick up on, it's important to say this really, I guess, is that you know, on the autism through cinema podcast, we we always have autistic people. They're discussing the film. So you know, I I didn't say this at the beginning, but I don't consider myself to be autistic. I do my older sister is autistic and I feel like I do know quite a lot about autism and about the world of autism. But it's very important to say that of course it is autistic people who best know about autism and therefore it is their voices which, you're most valuable in these talks discussions, and we are very careful to make sure that we always have autistic people on the podcast. In fact, you know, two of our regular hosts are autistic. We've brought on a few more recently as well, people like the film journalist Lillian Crawford. There's a PhD student called a ethern, lion video maker called John James Laidlow, Georgia Bradburn, who's the autistic film critic so low, and it's you know, it's so important to have their input and in and their insight on these on these films. But other than that, this was a very similar to what we normally do, because the autism through cinema podcast is literally are you. We take a film like we have today and we will watch it and then we all gather and talk about it. What's been wonderful about it is really the kind of breadth and the depth of the various different films that we've taken on. As I said earlier on, you know, we don't we're not just going through the obvious autism films. We are picking up on films that have some sort of particular resonance with autism as a way of being. That seems to be our kind of main thrust really. You know, to take a couple of examples, we recently covered Amelie. We also covered a raise ahead. At one point we did a kind of a David Lynch sort of special and a way we looked at a raise ahead and one of his short films, the grandmother. We've looked at Orlando by Sally Potter A as a kind of a way of looking at kind of queer neuro divergence, which was really interesting. And then we do land upon films which do have autistic characters, like this, the film of Temple granding, which is a starring Claire Danes, which is about a real life autistic activists called Temple granding. And yes, I said earlier, we looked a good time. We've looked at, yeah, all sorts of interesting different types of things. The gleaners and eye bagnus father was a really interesting one, and there's a film called the rider by Chloe Jhao, which was the film that she made...

...before nomad land, and that again has got an autistic character and indeed actually an autistic actor in there, which is really good to see. So you know, we've we've traveled around various genres, various time periods, various different types of film, and it's it's really nice and I think people are reacting to it quite well and I finding it a sort of a new and refreshing way to look at cinema and maybe a surprising way of looking at certain films that that we know and love already. So yeah, we continued to record and and we'll continue to release episodes. Of people want to check it out, they can do. It's on all major podcast platforms and it's just called the autism through cinema podcast and I would very much encourage listeners to pop over and have a listen and you can just pick and choose any kind of any of the films that we talked about that you're particular interest to. You had also like to just add an endorsement for the autism through cinema podcast. I've listened to a few episodes so far and they are brilliant. It offers a great insight into cinema that I myself have rarely considered up until now. It's certainly being an eye opener and it's always fastening fascinating to learn about cinema through it a slightly different perspective, and I just wanted to ask it a question to David, which is I'm curious to know what you think would be the most realistic depiction of a newer Daverage and person in cinema that you've encountered so far, and perhaps also is an additional question, which would be your favorite depiction of a neurodivergent Pierson that you've seen in cinema so far? Yeah, that's that's really interesting question. Tom Not necessarily very easy to answer because it's it's quite tricky in some ways, but I think the most accurate I think. I think actually you have to go to documentary to find the most accurate and I think the one of the films that we haven't released the episode yet, but we did. We have watched it and covered it already and recorded it and, if I remember rightly, we were quite hard on this film actually, although I do quite like it and I do think it did a good job. So this is the film, the reason I jump, which came out well, it was released in cinemas last year, but I think is release date is two thousand and twenty. This is a documentary which is the focuses on autistic people who are minimally verbal, as we call it, or you know, have minimal ability to speak or speak have speech, which is a commentary of autistic people which we don't often think about. We'll talk about well this film that I think there's a really good job, not a perfect job by any stretch, but a decent job of putting real autistic people on screen and allowing their voices to be heard and allowing their opinions to be heard and allowing us to sort of sit with them and live with them for a while. And so I think the reason I be it's certainly a good step forward in terms of representation of autism and and it's also an interesting film to just to watch and to know about. As I say, it's not perfect. There are problems with it and we do cover some of those in our discussion which is going to be released soon, but it's worth seeing definitely. As for my favorite, I do have a favorite and it's I have to step away from cinema here and go to television. My favorite representation of an autistic person in that I've seen on screen, I think anyway, is the character of our bed from the TV show community, the comedy TV show community, which is written by written and produced by Don Harmon and was this, you know, silly, knock about American Sitcom that run for a few years, had six seasons. Famously, and as a character in they're called our bed and I find him kind of fascinating and brilliant. I love him because he's this wonderful, powerful figure who has this kind of control over the narratives that he's in. He hasn't he has a real agency. He's a likable person, he's funny, but he also has encounters, challenges and problems and he what I really like about our bed is that it is part and part of the show of community. If people are unfamiliar with it, is it's a very Meta, textual and very kind of postmodern take on on all sorts of things and one of the things they do all the time is do parodies and past issues of famous films and famous TV programs and so on, and our bed is very central to all of that, I really and the program itself, when it's at its best, is really clever, very tightful, and our bed is very much in the in the midst of all of that. And I love him and I think he's brilliant and I think he's one of the most refreshing representations of an autistic character that we've seen to this point. And not perfect by any stretch. There are still problems and there is a lot of issue around his condition being sort of laughed at quite a lot, easi but but of the joke quite often. But I also think he's got power, he's got agency like no other autistic character really has.

So I would recommend that people check out community and spend some time with Arvid. Thanks for your recommendations. They have to confess that I've seen neither. I will be sure to check them out of here. A lot of good things about community, so perhaps you recommendation will be the push I need to give it a shot. Thank you. No problem with this nation. So I think all it is generally considered to be one of the most popular character from that show as well. I mean he is, and then the Beautiy, the actor of these, is absolutely hilarious. So I think that's definitely a good recommendation. And before you close off the episode, Don but I'll did, just tell us what your favorite episode of Autis interest in them is, if you have one more that you would really like people to listen to, and perhaps also just finished off with a little sales pitch, and we leave it there. Okay, Great. And my favorite episode, this is a tricky one. This is a really tricky one because they're all my favorite. Now I think, I think I really enjoyed that. We did an episode on Cat People. A cat people is in one thousand nine hundred and forty two film, more sort of film or horror classic. Really it was the first time we welcomed our at that that point he was our special guest, Ethan Lion. He's a PhD student WHO's Autistic, and I really like e didn he's just got so much enthusiasm for the films that he talks about and he brought along cat people and cat people's that I film I've never seen before, so it was a really wonderful discovery. It's great films, really interesting film and it was also, I think, the moment for our podcast where we really started to sort of explore some really complex ideas. So I really like that one particularly, and so I think the maybe if people wanted to start anywhere, then maybe cut people's a good start. But yeah, I mean loads of them are really great and we've got some good ones in the bag coming up as well which I'm excited to be listening to. We've we recorded one recently on chunking express, which is one of my favorite films of all time, with the Lilian Crawford, the film journalist, and yeah, that was a really great episode as well and that's coming out soon. And Sales Pitch, I guess the only way to do a sales pitch on this is to say, you know, it may feel like it's quite a niche topic. To think about cinema through the point of view of autism. There's maybe two quite niche interests coming together, and I'll maybe cinemas not niche, but it does certainly feels like autism is. But I would say that actually, you know, the interesting autism is increasing more and more more and more people are either finding out that they are autistic or you might know people who are autistic. It's not on cont's very it's actually very uncommon to find somebody who doesn't know someone who is autistic. And so for that reason, I think our podcast is really worth picking up on and jumping in on, because what we're trying to do is, yeah, explore a new way of looking at cinema, a way that's relevant and important, and in amongst all of that, we're also exploring what it means to be autistic, exploring the positives around being autistic and really celebrating the autistic way of being and point of view. And so for that reason I'm really proud of the podcast. I think it's a really great addition to the world of podcasts. And then I would I would age everyone to just have a have a listen. You know, our episodes generally tend to only be about an hour long and they're all quite relaxed and quite interesting. So go for it, eggs, and then I can just end doors that as well. I think it really fascinating the day episodes are not just about films with autistic characters or how autistic characters have been represented the in cinema media, but also a lot about films that may not that first glance be about autist them or there other versions, but really speak to people with Autis them and how they relate to them. And I think both the things that we do here on talking images is that we try to get many different views of Sind them and to share a passion, share how we see these films and hearing a lot about how ner, the worse people are experience in these films and how passionate they can be about these films and what they do. That that was really, really exciting to mean to hear these different viewpoints, etc. So I definitely hope that many of our listeners will go over to autism to cinema and check that podcast out. I also hope we'll see you back with us soon. So thank you so much for listening and will be back in two weeks. You have been listening to talking images, official PODCAST OF ICM FORUMCOM.

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