Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Why does talent like this get taken away?

Robert Altman, dead at 81

He went out this year with an honorary Oscar and a respectable final film. That's a hell of a lot to ask for in itself, considering most veteran filmmakers don't get that kind of send off.

God rest you, Mr. Altman, wherever you are. Without you, movies like this and TV shows like this wouldn't be made.

Some poignant quotes from Robert Altman:

From a man who served in Air Force during the Vietnam and Second World Wars: "When I see an American flag flying, it's a joke."

"Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes."

"Retirement? You're talking about death, right?"

"Mr. and Mrs. Smith get married, they have problems, they get back together and they live happily ever after. End of the movie. Two weeks later, he kills her, grinds her body up, feeds it to his girlfriend who dies of ptomaine poisoning, and her husband is prosecuted and sent to the electric chair for it-- but here's our own little story with the happy ending. What is an ending? There's no such thing. Death is the only ending."

From all this, depending on what you know about the guy, you could see Altman as a brilliant director, an interesting person or an uncompromising Hollywood dissenter. I think of him as a cultural crusader. We need more people like that on the planet. I'd like to think for every one that dies, there are two or three more ready to step up and take on that role, but sometimes I'm just not so sure.

He will be missed.


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