by Jason Whyte
A truly great time capsule from the 1970's, Robert Altman's 1975 "Nashville" leaves a lasting impression on the soul, a film that takes basic human feelings and thoughts and changes the narrative of films to come; that a great film may not need a plot if one can effectively portray the world it is speaking about with ideas, people and emotions."Nashville" covers a few days in the Country music capital, but what it doesn't do is make a story/plot/verse/chorus about it. Instead, it is a character study that inspired many great films of the last twenty years, "Magnolia", the best film of 1999, was inspired by Altman's landmark.
"Hey, country music ain't so bad, ya dig?"
Altman's narrative follows over two dozen people, from musicians arriving in Nashville for a music festival, some rich, some poor. Some coming in on planes, some hitchhiking and some walking into the city with their guitar and case in hand. There are so many characters in the film, characters lonely and sad, people obsessed with their music and power and stature, people in lust and being lusted after, and so on. It's even taking place during a presedential primary session, where the town's election truck opens the film, screaming it's preaches to the public.
It's rare for a film to show the guts of a city, its life and attitude, and Altman shows us so much about Nashville more than most directors would care to show. So much in fact, that after watching this film I think I could navigate the city easily. The streets, highways, landmarks, theaters, and buildings are so authenicaly presented with finesse and ease.
And so is the music! One does not have to be an exclusive Country elitist to appreciate the music, songs such as Ronee Blakley's
"Dues," Henry Gibson's "200 Years," Keith Carradine's "I'm Easy," and especially Barbara Harris' "It Don't Worry Me" linger in the mind long after the film's credits have rolled. It just amends to the fact that music from the 60's and the 70's are the defining decades of artistic integrity, that musicians and filmmakers did exactly what they wanted.
Altman mentioned once that Nashville is the Hollywood of Country music. I believe him. Celebrities pass through the town in this film and appear as cameos, and are treated as different, as some actor from somewhere, just as if Ronee Blakley went to a party at the Playboy mansion and had to say "I was in that movie called 'Nashville'" to get in the door."Nashville" is a film that is open and alive, a film that is so sure and free, not just a timecapsule of the life of the party, the troubled political times and the great music, but a fable of the branches of life that keep us all together through music, or love, or sex, or whatever.
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originally posted: 08/01/05 18:41:35