Mash and Robert Altman: an enduring legacy

The influence of Robert Altman on film is indisputable and widespread. A true auteur, Altman was fearless, utterly unique and notably humanistic. Brutal, satirical war films are nothing new, from Kubrick’s Paths of Glory and Dr. Strangelove to the more recent Jarhead, but without a doubt the most influential of this genre is Altman’s 1970 film Mash.

A blatant metaphor for the horror of war and Vietnam, Mash is a broad story with multiple characters set during the Korean War. If you could pinpoint the leads, they would be Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland) and Trapper John McIntyre (Elliot Gould), two Army doctors whose lives basically revolve around cruel, sometimes funny pranks they play to survive the sad reality of war. Though the film has no linear plot, there are hookups with pretty nurses, bloody surgeries, and, as the thin thread that holds the scenes together, random and hilarious loudspeaker announcements.
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