The New Hollywood movement began in the mid-60’s. By the time the film version of MASH emerged, in 1970, the movement was still new but past the initial blow and in a full upswing. Carrying the same rebellious nature and built to attract the same demographic as it’s predecsors Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, Mash was set to attract young adults with it’s wit and satirical dark humor about a subject that was near and painful to many at the time. Audiences of the time could relate to the war story. It was probably refreshing to even be able to laugh or joke about such a sore subject. I believe M*A*S*H became such a big hit because it spoke to the generation and gave it something it craved. The combination of being highly relative to it’s time and built with a personality the generation could easily get along with probably lent a hand in the films overall success. This is no surprise since most films of the New Hollywood era were young, schooled in the artistic ways of film, and ready to produce something young, fresh, hip, and more realistic then anything seen during Classic Hollywood times.
Robert Altman, the director of MASH, learned most of his filmmaking skills while working at a private film company producing all sorts of documentary’s and educational films. I believe MASH’s realistic and documentarian tone was due to this sort of practice and experience in Altman’s career.
Compared to the eras pre and post New Hollywood, I would say this era proved to be a time of raw, rebellious, and realistic film making that can still be appreciated today.
In many ways, M*A*S*H is the epitome of what a New Hollywood film would be: unconventional themes, strong sexual references, fresh and hip feel, focused on a young adult crowd, rebellious, clever and witty.
Nominee, Academy Award, Best Director, 1970, Robert Altman
Nominee, Academy Award, Best Supporting Actress, 1970, Sally Kellerman
Winner, Academy Award, Best Screenplay, 1970 (Adapted), Ring Lardner Jr.
Winner, Cannes Film Festival, Palme d’Or, 1970, Robert Altman
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