Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Dark Comedy of Robert Altman

Robert Altman who died only two years ago had a long and versatile career for nearly forty years of film. He will always be remembered for his quintessential antiwar film MASH which later became one of the most successful television shows ever. In addition to this American classic he made several other comedies during the 1970s, including one of my favorite films Nashville.

This film is a slice of life following nearly 24 characters lives in Nashville, Tennessee for five days leading up to the bicentennial of the United States in 1976. The film perfectly touches on the dissent in America after Vietnam and Watergate and is loosely tied together by the speech of a third party president who is never seen at the films climax.

The film is both sad and funny as it shows the sometimes-tragic sometimes-comic struggles of various classes of people living in America. There is a focus on the American phenomenon of an obsession with fame as various leading ladies vie to become the next country music star.

This film is a precursor to later Altman works, like Shortcuts, which has unquestionably had an affect on modern filmmakers such as P.T. Anderson, whose film Magnolia is structurally similar to the film Nashville.

This film should be required viewing for anyone who wants to get a feel for what life was like in America in the 1970s after the turbulent years of the 1960s. This film along with MASH makes Robert Altman a master of dark comedy.

Here is the trailer!

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