Saturday, March 13, 2004

69 is divine

A cheerleader's chant in Robert Altman's M*A*S*H. Am relishing the goodies on a 2-DVD special release. My introduction to the world of the people of the 4077th had been through the TV series, which hit India rather late on satellite television. Thanks again to satellite television, I managed to catch the source of the award-winning television phenomenon, the only Robert Altman movie that I might be willing to watch again and again. Altman established most of his trademarks with this film: overlapping dialogue, ensemble casting, and a general almost Kubrickian bent for being a nutcase. The special features on the DVD include more information about the revolutionary use of overlapping dialogue, the use of a zoom lens in conjunction with individual microphones to capture conversations in a more realistic non-linear fashion, the introduction of the now familiar loudspeaker motif to provide a transitional device to fragments of life that did not easily lend themselves to a conventional mainstream linear narrative. And then there's the whole bit of Ring Lardner Jr's disgust at how the final product seemed to bear little resemblance to his less adventurous script. And, recalling a similar triumph for Citizen Kane, Lardner walked away with the only Oscar this film received. Clearly his victory had something to do with Hollywood wishing to assure everyone that it had decided to forget the dark chapter of the blacklist (Lardner was one of the unlucky 10). And the poster is pure genius. Looking forward to more relish on the director's commentary. Truly, suicide is painless.

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