As long as the roots are not severed, all is well, and all will be well, in the garden.
This 1971 Jerzy Kosinski novella is now better known
for its 1979 film adaptation.
Chance the Gardener is a middle-aged, mentally-challenged man who has never been outside of the elegant townhouse he lives in, by orders of its owner "The Old Man". He has only two pastimes in life: gardening and watching television. Not long after the story opens the Old Man is discovered dead. In the aftermath Chance is told by the lawyers who have come to close the house - and who have no record of a gardener employed there, much less living there - that he must leave. Thus, he packs a suitcase of clothes (all hand-me-downs from the Old Man) and his remote control and heads out into the world. Soon enough, he is accidentally struck by a limousine and his leg is injured. The passenger, Eve Rand, happens to be the wife of an elderly, dying financial titan, Ben; since his mansion is now partially set up as a hospital, she invites Chance to recover there. On the ride over, she mishears his name as "Chauncey Gardiner". Though honest by nature, he doesn't realize she's making a mistake, and things snowball from there. Both Eve and Ben take a shine to this ruined businessman (well, that's what they think he is - he has such nice clothes, and is so polite), and the latter introduces him to the President of the United States. When asked him what he thinks of the current economic climate, Chance - confused and grasping at the word "growth" — replies with the quote above. Both men are impressed, and soon Chauncey Gardiner has become one of the most powerful people in America, if not the world...
Arguably the reader most touched by this successful satire was actor Peter Sellers
, who heavily identified with Chance's fate to be only what others want/need him to be. He was determined to play the role in a film, which took about seven years to get off the ground as his star had fallen far by the early 1970s. Thus, the latter entries he did in The Pink Panther
series were largely to reestablish his bankability and reputation. Between this and director Hal Ashby's own rising star (Sellers was a fan of Harold and Maude
and immediately pegged him to direct) by way of films like Shampoo
and Coming Home
the film finally arrived in 1979. It is a close adaptation of the book, albeit with some significant expansion and, perhaps most famously, a Twist Ending
. It is also Sellers' second-to-last filmnote
, and regarded by some fans — as well as himself — as his Moment Of Awesome
To this day, a politician criticized for being all style/sound bites and no substance or even intelligence is likely to be compared to Chance. Compare and contrast Forrest Gump
Provides examples of: