Filmmaker Robert Altman Dead
By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 21, 2006 5:09PM
We are very sad to hear news that Robert Altman, one of our favorite filmmakers, has died at age 81. His last film A Prairie Home Companion was one of his few to deal overtly with death, so we can't help thinking that it was on his mind. At last year's Oscars, the long-overdue presentation of a lifetime acheivement award to Mr. Altman filled us with pride. A true maverick who directed everything from M*A*S*H to Popeye, The Player, Nashville, Short Cuts and Gosford Park, Altman was known for making films exactly the way he damn well felt like making them. As irrational as it sounds, to this day we have a soft spot for Popeye and often still hum "He Needs Me," as sung in the film by Shelley Duvall.
He was in Chicago just a few years ago to shoot the underrated film The Company about the Joffrey Ballet. A climactic performance at the Petrillo Band Shell in Grant Park during a thunderstorm was most memorable.
Altman's numerous innovations include a fluid, constantly moving camera; overlapping dialog; and decentralized stories spread across a large ensemble cast. We will mourn the loss of an amazing artist who truly enriched the language of filmmaking over the course of a career that spanned more than five decades.