3/5/10 - robert altman

In today's excerpt - Robert Altman, director of such influential films as M*A*S*H, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Nashville, The Player, Porter, and Gosford Park on his view of life. Before beginning his life in film, Altman was in the U.S. Army Air Force and piloted B-24s in fifty bombing missions in the Pacific theater during World War II:

"I was the eldest child in my family. Born in 1925. Had I been born in 1935 instead of 1925, my life would be totally different. I would be a totally different person. Same if I had been born in 1915. It all depends on when you're placed into the river, and where that river takes you—it couldn't happen the same way a week earlier or a week later. You're in your time and space in the river. Now, you can swim over toward the bank where the current isn't as fast, but basically from that point you're going down the river. You can swim upstream. But just for a little bit. If you swim up against the current a lot, by the time you die you have only covered a short distance along the bank. If you go over to the edge and go with the mainstream, you cover a lot more territory, but you're not exercising. I don't think you ever have the energy to beat the river. The river is always going faster than you can swim against it. The reason I think you fight against something is simply because it's there to fight against.

"I think I go upstream because it's the easiest place for me to go. But I'm over at the edge, not in the center of it. In other words, I'm not out there making the long-distance swim across the channel. I take the easiest path upstream. ... I don't think anybody remembers the truth the facts. You remember impressions."


Mitchell Zuckoff


Robert Altman: The Oral Biography


First Vintage Books Edition


Copyright 2009 by the Estate of Robert B. Altman and Mitchell Zuckoff


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