Robert Altman – Auteur Theory
On February 20, 1925, American filmmaker Robert Altman was born, with stories packed in his head the gave him the title of auteur. An auteur theory is when an auteur, an author of film, is able to make a movie through productive means but be able to tell the story in a style only they can accomplish. With movies such as A Prairie Home Companion, M.A.S.H, and The Player, it was noticeable that Altman had a certain flare to his auteur-ship. The common motif with these three movies was that criticism to the entertainment establishment and how it's dying and the normal establishment.
For A Prairie Home Companion, the plot of the movie was it was the live radio show's final show and how the people that work there are dealing with the final night, as well as airing the final show. Along the way of the movie, characters from outside the radio world walk around the area on the final night; an old man who bought out the radio station and shutting it down watching the final show and a woman in white who walks around backstage with only three characters who are able to see her. While the old man's character is not important (aside from knowing that he is shutting down the place)Alt man shows not only the final night of the radio as a career, but as a character in it self, with the lady in white as an almost vital role, as she walks around as an almost angel-esqe character. The fact she is dressed in a modern, all white attire,as well as all the “living” characters not being able to see her, save for three characters (the axeman, the security, and the cowboy who passes away)and eventually the rest of the cast, Altman managed to write her in as a character who brings along nothing but death, proven by the end of the movie when all the ex-radio stars are sitting at a diner and she walks in and they all notice her with a grim expression on their face. For anyone who works, or is aware of the theater myths, there is always a stage light on for good luck, so whenever the white lady walked around and was anywhere near the stage light, the stage light would always flicker and eventually go out.
Other movies such as The Player, the whole movie is written as a satire to the Hollywood industry with a character who is stuck in a plot that written in an almost screenplay matter, a loop of sorts one would say. The main character accidently kills a screenplay writer thinking it's the guy who keeps sending him threatening post cards. As the movie progresses, Altman shows the movie carrying out like normal in terms of a movie with characters who appear as characters and not as individuals in the world. But by the end of the movie, it is made clear that the movie was made in terms of a black mail threat to the main character, for it was not the screenplay writer who sent him threatening mail, but it was just some individual that is never shown on camera saying his latest screenplay idea, which is the same plot as the movie that was just played out. This means that Altman made the movie as a movie that breaks the forth wall with it's loop to go on forever and never ending, much like the industry of Hollywood.
However the plot for M.A.S.H, is different compared to the other two movies, and yet the same. Here, the movie is more about the anti-establishment instead of just a bunch of wacky hijinks the ensue throughout the movie, but at the same time, the movie is the same like the other two, as it is written in an episodic formant, almost in an entertainment way. Each “chapter” in the movie is like a different episode in a t.v show (that is, if one ignores the M.A.S.H t.v show). Altman goes about this movie like this is everyday life for them (which for the most part it is) but each character has television-like personalities. Big Lips is the hot nurse everyone flocks over, while Hawkeye and Duke are the two main, rebellious womanizing, characters and so on. Altman's critique on the establishment was done in an entertainment critique-like fashion.