“NASHVILLE”— A Classic Restored on Blu-ray/DVD



A Classic Restored on Blu-ray/DVD

Amos Lassen

I am often asked if I have a favorite movie and that is a really difficult question as I have several, one of which is Robert Altman’s “Nashville”. “Nashville” is more than a movie and in it Robert Altman captured a time in history and an attitude while at the same time giving us a look at humans who strive for more. Altman made several excellent movies and “Nashville” is  considered by many to be his best. It is no surprise that Criterion has chosen it to be part of its blu ray stock since the company is noted for preserving the very best.“Nashville” is also a film about women and the roles they play in American culture. We have the reporter from the BBC, the singer who cannot sing, the fragile broken woman, the one next in line, the never-complaining and always present wife.The film is a metaphor for the political climate at the time it was made (1975). It was presented  with a cast that delivers incredible performances– Lily Tomlin, Keith Carradine, Ronee Blakley, Henry Gibson, Shelley Duvall, Geraldine Chaplin, Karen Black, Ned Beatty, and more.  There are echoes of the Kennedy assassination as the movie reflects the spirits of the times and it ridicules Nashville and its love of country music.The plot of the film takes place over five days set against the Grand Ole Opry. The film ends at a rally for Hal Philip Walker who is a radical conservative that we never see but whose presence is felt throughout. There is a symbolic appearance at the end when we see a black limousine surrounded by men dressed darkly. We feel that it represents what is not good for this country. This is Altman’s view of this country’s future which is certainly different from what the founding fathers had in mind.“Nashville” is perhaps the seminal film of the 70s and has a solid fan base—so much so that I can risk saying that the Criterion edition will fly off of the shelves, especially if someone has seen the real poor DVD that exists now. Altman assembled 24 actors and then let them go their own ways in Nashville. Soon there were meetings between actors and “real people” and improvisation brought this movie into being. Altman looked at the nature of celebrity, political apathy and social unrest and we are given a look at the specificity of time and place. With this film, Altman redefined storytelling and narration..The film received Oscar  nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (2—Lily Tomlin and Ronee Blakely) and it won the Academy Award for best song with Keith Carradine’s song, “I’m Easy”. The actors were told to develop their own material and it certainly paid off. The film is loaded with music and is funny and tragic and it is just as important today as it was in 1975. The new bonus features include:

Audio commentary featuring director Robert Altman
New documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with actors Keith Carradine, Michael Murphy, Allan Nicholls, and Lily Tomlin; assistant director Alan Rudolph; and screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury
Archival interviews with Altman
Behind-the-scenes footage
Demos of Carradine singing his songs from the film
 A booklet featuring an essay by critic Molly Haskell.





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