Thursday 14 July 2011
Vietnam War was a watershed event for all of America, and rarely has something as serious as that was made to look so utterly farcical as in Joseph Heller’s brilliant book Catch-22. M*A*S*H, the pointed satire that catapulted Robert Altman to the highest echelons of critical acclaim and popularity, could perhaps be qualified as the cinematic counterpart of the groundbreaking novel. Controversial, anti-establishmentarian and unapologetically in-your-face, this superb black comedy gleefully mocked at the utter ludicrosity of not just the Vietnam War but all wars in general. The irreverent and iconoclastic movie chronicles the acts of blasphemous defiance by the doctors and nurses of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War, led by the brazenly rebellious duo of Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland) and Trapper John McIntyre (Elliott Gould). The film is filled with loads of jokes and innuendoes that might seem crass, offensive, politically incorrect and sexist to many; but to think of it, the total dismissal of anything to do with morality, religion, bureaucracy and authority with such impudence and nonchalance was perhaps Altman’s intent to begin with – and in turn one of the principal reasons for its seamless entry into the collective consciousness of its age. And, at the end of the day, all the socio-political ramifications aside, the movie sure was hilarious. Each of the series of eccentric characters were incredibly sketched and superbly performed by the ensemble cast, with improvisation playing a key role in the film’s success.
Director: Robert Altman
Genre: Black Comedy/Political Satire/Social Satire/Ensemble Film/War Film