Oscar Directors: Altman, Robert–Auteur, Vision

Robert Altman, the most iconoclastic of American filmmakers, liked to disorient spectators by defying ordinary filmic syntax.

His best work (M.A.S.H., McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Nashville) deals with the tension between individuals and community, specifically with how Americans include in their consciousness the knowledge of racism, the corruption of the American Dream, the violence, and yet remain Americans.

His career is marked by work in a variety of genres, the diversity of point-of-views, range of settings and landscapes of his stories.

For Altman, like Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message.

He has been preoccupied with the democratization of the movies, insisting on thematic diversity and resisting the Hollywood convention of clear resolution (in the form of happy ending).

More than other directors, he has paid attention to the distinctive voices of women and blacks, in such movies as Three Women or Kansas City. (Keyssar)

Altman’s signature is emphatically and specifically American, both in the territories explored and in the styles used for these explorations. His films negotiate the viewers’ attachment to–and detachment from–American culture.  His work invites Americans to engage in a conversation about the links of the past, present, and future of the promised land.  Altman devotes attention to the politics of representation as well as to the representation of politics.