R.I.P., Robert Altman

121849__altman_lSeven-time Oscar nominee Robert Altman, director of such memorable films as Nashville, Gosford Park, The Player, and M*A*S*H, died Monday night in Los Angeles. He was 81.

Known for films with wry, free-flowing dialogue, Altman was a favorite among actors, as this clip of Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep — presenting Altman with a lifetime achievement Oscar last February — makes abundantly clear.

To get Altman’s own take on his long and storied career, check out Missy Schwartz’s EW profile of Altman from this past summer, right before the director released his final film, A Prairie Home Companion. In it, Altman said he woke up most mornings facing the idea of death, but it hadn’t seemed to slow his zest for his work.

Perhaps that’s because Altman remained staunchly uncompromising throughout his career. A remark the director made while accepting his Oscar, quoted here in his New York Times obituary, sums up his philosophy rather nicely. "No other filmmaker has gotten a better shake than I have. I’m very fortunate in my career. I’ve never had to direct a film I didn’t choose or develop," he said. "My love for filmmaking has given me an entree to the world and to the human condition."

addCredit(“Robert Altman: Dan MacMedan/WireImage.com”)

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  • Sarah

    That is so incredibly sad.
    He was a great talent and movie maker.

  • Ross Blankert

    A talented man but a liberal through-in-through. Typical hollywood guy now bit the dust.

  • Christian

    Ross-
    We don’t need insensitive remarks like yours. The man died, for godsakes. He was a great director who served as a link to a time when filmmaking was exactly that, making a film through character, story and atmosphere. He was an underappreciated giant of the art of film. His work resonates in the likes of Tarantino, Almodavar, Scorsese, and Spike Lee, filmmakers who understand that special effects don’t make great films, stories and people do.

  • Victor Perez

    As far back as i can remember, Robert Altman was one of my main inspirations to become a filmmaker..
    Tonite, i shall watch ‘M*A*S*H’ and ‘A Prairie Home Companion’, then poor my 40 oz. on the ground for him..
    Thank you, Bob!!
    You are loved and will be missed..

  • TomT

    Altman was the absolute king. He has been my hero since the sumemr of 1987 when my cousin showed me A Wedding, Nashville, and MASH. The nice thing about being an artist is that you’re a little more immortal than the rest of us: The movies are still there and they always will be.

  • Lance

    Robert Altman is my favorite director. Shame on Ross Blankert, who labels him as a “liberal,” which is so shallow and ridiculous. “A talented man but a liberal through in through?” You need help, my friend. Bob Altman will be missed greatly, and his talent was as big as the whole wide world. Favorite Altman film: NASHVILLE Runner up: THIEVES LIKE US.
    Rest in peace, Bob!

  • Paul U.

    How ignorant…what does being a liberal have to do with him being a great filmmaker? I can seperate the artist from his politics, personally. I was really sadded to hear the news…Short Cuts is one of my favorite films, it’s one of the first that I saw where I went, wow…a director is really an artist.

  • Mozz

    “Because I could not stop for Death —
    He kindly stopped for me —
    The Carriage held but just Ourselves —
    And Immortality.” Emily Dickinson.
    Through his art, talent,vision and humanity he has become truly immortal. Good Night Mr. Altman.

  • Ed

    Hi Anna!
    I knew who this man was : )

  • Cynthia

    I was just thinking about “Nashville” yesterday, while I was driving to work, about how everyone I saw it with hated it, how I hadn’t had anyone to talk about how concussed I felt after watching it.
    No matter what the subject matter, or how successful, Robert Altman’s movies made me think–and feel. And that’s got to be the best thing any film can do.
    If I’d been an actor, I would have worked for him for nothing.

  • Lynny

    I got the great pleasure of meeting Robert Altman when he stayed at The Driskill hotel in Austin, TX for a film festival. The morons who I worked with had booked him in a standard room and the smallest one we had, at that. When he came to the desk to get directions to a theater, I apologized about the room and offered to upgrade him to a suite. He looked a little bashful and insisted he was perfectly happy in the room he had and thanked me. He was so friendly and just seemed like “a regular guy”. Trust me, it is a rare treat to meet someone as important as he was that who doesn’t buy into the hype about themselves and expect to be treated differently. He will be missed.

  • Kurt

    Altman was a truly great director and this in very sad news.
    Even though he had other projects in the works, however, I really think that “A Prairie Home Companion” was an amazing film to go out on. It in itself was a meditation on the fear and acceptance of death, and the final scene of that film is a haunting visualization of that whole idea.
    Film will definately miss him, and so will his fans.

  • Slammy

    Altman made four or five truly mind-blowing films. McCabe and Mrs. Miller and MASH are certainly among them. I would put The Long Goodbye up at the top, even above Nashville which is a tad dated. His output in the ’80s was a tad soft, but he did make one brilliant film, Vincent & Theo. And late in life he made an exquisite, Renoir-esque piece, Gosford Park. Even A Prairie Home Companion, a lesser work, demonstrates that his command of technique far outstrips that of most of today’s younger directors.
    http://slam-cut.blogspot.com

  • paige

    “typical hollywood guy”??? you obviously dont know who robert altman was OR what hollywood is. in case you need a reminder, rent The Player.

  • dma69

    He’ll definitely be missed. I know that when people think of Altman, films like Nashville, MASH, The Player and others come to mind, but I didn’t think Popeye was as bad as the critics thought. Maybe because I was just eleven when it first came out, but I thought it was a good movie.

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