I read that Robert Altman died today. I have only seen a few of his films but I remember liking them, its been awhile. I just finished watching his sprawling 1975 piece Nashville. It really touched me, I have never seen a movie quite like it. Its hard to pin any one word on it. I do believe the man really had a gift for control and carrying out an idea and a feeling.
Its hard to say that there is a traditional plot. None of the characters where very well developed and there were many cameos. Yet, it all holds together as a whole and kept my eyes glued to the screen. It sounds weird, but the picture that came into my head a few times was a bunch of marbles rolling around hitting eachother. Their really wasn't all that much conflict. The characters didn't seem to be that affected by what was happening to them. I feel like it was a profound statement, yet its hard to pin the statement to one thing.
I felt like the pacing and editing was very advanced and well thought out yet the characters really existed in this film on their own. It really made me think differently about what a film can be. Lilly Tomlin was especially great in a way I haven't seen her before. Its hard to single out one character, they were all almost puppets in this environment. Its really kind of creepy when I think about it. The film makes political statements and statements about open-minded thinking but its not preachy.
I can see how some could say it could be edited down further, often times Altman would play entire songs without cutting them at all. Most if not all of the songs are original compositions for the film. In a way it made me think of a Christopher Guest mockumentary, but I don't know that it was exactly mocking any one thing. Also, I felt like he was saying something about the affects of war and the Kennedy's being assasinated and people being desensitized to it. I'm sure there are many other points to the film and it deserves another viewing. But, the choreography of the huge cast and extras intertwining in and out of the frame and allowing the viewer to still maintain context is impressive. I can say I have never seen anything quite like it and I didn't want to look away but wasn't always sure why. In my opinion that is the mark of a great work of art.