Sunday, April 1, 2012

7. Nashville, 1976

Music and Movies
Nashville, 1976
Robert Altman

The absolute capital of country music, a sort of a Success Alley where the ascent of an artist can suddenly come, the real market of music sold as politics when politics are sold as music, Nashville is a microcosm, the true expression of the American culture.

Altman began to think of a cinematic version of the inner soul of his Country early in 1972, but he found the script that was given to him not convincing at all. Decisive for the resolution of the project were the visits of his screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury, willing not to be overwhelmed by the thunderous mechanisms of the sophisticated industry of music. That's why the movie was literally born there, in Nashville, evolving itself in a perpetual metamorphosis, with the close collaboration of the actors asked to write their own songs and their lines (among them, Gary Busey contributed the song Since You've Gone and was originally going to play Tom, a guitar player of the folk trio “Tom, Bill and Mary”).
The result of the intuition of Altman and Tewkesbury is a work that marks an important moment in the history of cinema for its new kind of language, the originality of the structure, the immense repertoire of themes with their symbols and eventual interpretations offered to the audience. “Nashville” seems to have the ease of a documentary, but it is a virtuoso piece of
cinéma vérité, flowing as a dense metaphor in which Altman has poured his enormous capacity for the analysis and the synthesis of the spirit of the Nation.
The story is well known: in Nashville, two canvassers take their proper care of the election campaign of Walker, a candidate for president of the United States, trying to communicate with the most known singers in order to organize a show that could possibly become a political mass-meeting. The political slogans are mixed up with the lyrics of the songs -
par endroits uplifting and mystifying - performed by the famous singers during the happening; so, one of the most really real passages on “Nashville” lasts the time of a song (I'm Easy) and takes the instant of a virtual night. Apart from this, all of the festival also involves an entire bunch of hopeful dilettantes and untalented singers, lots of entrepreneurs and extravagant individuals, some factual actors passing by, and a candid and curious British journalist, utterly incapable to understand the meanings of the tragicomic show she's attending to.
In “Nashville” Altman studies the American reality through the wise glance of a sociologist, placing all of the individual circumstances in a series of concentric spirals that eventually coalesce into the emblematic and dramatic acme of the show as it fixes the fate of all the characters of the movie.
And, in the mean time, the voice of the crowd sings “it don't worry me”.

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