Published on March 9th, 2007 | by Chris1
So is M*A*S*H a "war movie" or an "anti-war movie?" It's been called both, and I think they're right on both counts. Robert Altman's 1970 masterpiece which spawned the spinoff TV series comes at you from both directions, dead serious and dead funny. All at the same time.
It follows the doctors of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH!) in Korea during the war. Some of which were drafted and wind up there by fate, others are "regular army clowns" who seem to live for this stuff.
Now, if you've never seen the movie, but only seen the TV series, you need to take everything you think you know, and just throw it out the window. About the only common traits the two have is the name, the location, and the characters' names. And Radar. He'd be the only actor that stuck around for the series.
There are lots of things which make MASH an incredible movie. Not the least of which are the performances from a stellar ensemble cast. Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould, Robert Duvall, Tom Skerritt, Sally Kellerman, and yes even the infamous Gary Burghoff.
MASH jumps between hilarious episodes, filmed with brilliant vision by Altman (my favorite is the "Last Supper" table) and the dead seriousness of their situation.
While watching this, you also realize how much of this you probably couldn't get away with in a movie today without having the riot act read to you. It's damn funny, but given the climate of today you don't really want to laugh in case someone sees you.
One of the problems though, is a lot of the humor is so subtle and "dry" that its lost on a lot of folks. There's a lot of things that if you're not paying close attention, you'll miss the point. The style is a bit disjointed and irregular, and could also put a few people off. Once you get used to the strange cuts and angles, and realize what's going on, you'll get the hang of it.
It's been called an "anti-war" movie, and I suspect that's for a few reasons, probably more to do with the period it was made (at the height of Vietnam) and the way it belittles Army life as a series of mishaps connected by madness.
Of course, in a way, all good war movies *are* "anti-war" to some degree.
That is all.
M*A*S*H (Widescreen Edition)
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Sutherland's Hawkeye, Gould's Trapper and Kellerman's Hotlips push the boundaries of irreverence in this bawdy, black comedy about the members of a mobile medical unit during the Korean War.
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Manufacturer: 20th Century Fox
Original Release Date:
- Donald Sutherland
- Elliott Gould
- Tom Skerritt
- Sally Kellerman
- Robert Duvall
Summary: So is M*A*S*H a "war movie" or an "anti-war movie?" It's been called both, and I think they're right on both counts. Robert Altman's 1970 masterpiece which spawned the spinoff TV series comes at you from both directions, dead serious and dead funny. All at the same time.