Remembering Robert Altman

All of my films deal with the same thing: striving, socially and culturally, to stay alive. And once any system succeeds, it becomes its own worst enemy. The good things we create soon create bad things. So nothing is ever going to be Utopian, and when I make films like Nashville (1975) and [Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976)], it's not to say we're the worst country in the world, or God, what awful people these are. I'm just saying we're at this point and it's sad. – Robert Atman

November 20th will mark the tenth year anniversary of the American directors’ death. Often regarded as one of the few American auteurs of Cinema, Altman was part of the great decade of 1970’s film of the New Hollywood of the Penns, the Scorseses, the Ashbys, the Coppolas, the Spielbergs, the Lucas, the Rafelsons, the De Palmas, and many others.

His subversive approach to the studio system and towards the academic strained seriousness of movie sets and planned almost routined mise en scène isolated him from the comfy middle of the road big budget film sets. Often categorized as naturalistic and dynamic his directing used many techniques to tell his stories.

Actors were in love with him because he let them improvise and use their creativity to bring more authenticity to the humans they were portraying.

The soundtracks of his movies are crowded of ovelapping dialogues and music. Watch MASH, for example, with its mutlitrack dialogues or Nashville for its long minutes of Country music. There is something genuine and absolutely genius about these films.


My personal relationship with Robert Altman and his films was one of love and hate. At first, I remember not really having had a great time with Nashville and its long running time and the Country music might be one of the musical genres that I dislike the most. So everything was aligned for me to be a bit bored and left cold. Prior to seeing Nashville, I saw Gosford Park in theaters and I loved it a lot. The ensemble cast, the depiction of classes and the Sherlock Holmes like investigation was really entertaining. Then, M*A*S*H got me and I liked its anti-war message and the presence of Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould. Short Cuts was also a film that I loved a lot and that doesn’t get the praise it deserves. On the other hand, Kansas City left me a bit on my appetite while having some qualities just as Cookie’s Fortune. It’s not until three years ago that I watched McCabe and Mrs. Miller that took the lead as my favorite Robert Altman film. A revisionist Western masterpiece starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie.

This is a modest homage to the director I miss a lot despite the fact I haven’t watched many of his films but the ones I saw mae an impact on me and I think I may have to watch some more in the future and get some new reviews on this blog as well.

Are you an Altman enthusiast? How many of his films have you liked/hated and which are they?


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