Monday, May 5, 2014

Movie of the Week – MASH

This week’s movie: MASH (1970)

MASH follows the hijinks of the staff of a Korean War field hospital (specifically by the surgeons). The use of humor allows them to keep their sanity amidst the horrors they face daily.

The film was directed by Robert Altman. It was one of his first features, and stands as one of his best. For fans of his work, also check out: McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye, Nashville, 3 Women, Short Cuts, The Player, and Gosford Park (MASH is my favorite of his work, followed by Gosford Park). Altman worked with composer Johnny Mandel, cinematographer Harold E. Stine, and art directors Arthur Lonergan and Jack Martin Smith on the film.

MASH is a great and very funny comedy; but more so, it is a strong piece of antiwar cinema. Altman does not mention that the film takes place during the Korean War at any point during the film, actively wanting the audience to associate it with the Vietnam War which was in full effect at the time of the film’s release. 20th Century Fox ended up attaching a title at the beginning of the film announcing it as taking place during the Korean War to somewhat mitigate the politics of the film. It is a strange piece overall, one that many seem to take quite an issue with – the idea of setting a goofball comedy (akin to something like Scrubs – you know, because of the medical connection – or almost any summer camp movie, as it feels a lot like one) in a situation of intense and dire consequences to human lives is a bit too much for some. And yet, how else can one cope in such a situation without losing themselves? The film spun-off a very successful TV adaptation M*A*S*H, which is probably better known today than the film. It is a must-see for fans of goofball comedy (and summer camp movies) and war films, as it lends a different perspective.

Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

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