“Hawkeye” Pierce and “Trapper” John McIntyre
are the heroes — or anti-heroes — of this film. Those
of you who may have seen the TV show (which was good in its own way,
but had an entirely different tone, especially after the first couple
of seasons) may be surprised at how cruel, even sadistic, they are.
They absolutely torment Major “Hot Lips” Houlihan and Major
Frank Burns, for instance. Why do they behave the way they do?
What is the point of portraying the central characters in this way?
is a groundbreaking comedy to be sure. Like Catch-22,
it has elements of satire and of absurdism, and it does not have an
immediately identifiable central plot (though for somewhat different
reasons). Consider what makes M*A*S*H
funny, and draw whatever connections you can to Heller’s
Altman is famous for directing films in which many people are talking
at once. In most movies, the scenes are filmed in such a way that
the audience can hear the important conversations clearly. (In
technical terms, that means amplifyiing those conversations and bringing
them forward in the sound mix while suppressing ambient noise levels,
plus making sure the camera focuses on the speaker). Altman,
however, does not do that. Instead, the dialogue overlaps, and
you may well miss or be unsure of a word here or there. What are
the advantages of this kind of overlapping dialogue style?