Reviews

MASH (1970) IMDb

Extent

Review applies to a Norwegian print which seemed a little censored.

Categorization

Black comedy. Early big-budget criticism of the Vietnam war proxied by Korea. Korea is identifiable only because of superimposed text: the director apparently intended the setting to be ambiguous. Probably the first big-budget Hollywood feature to use the word “fuck”. The film was an adaptation of a novel and was itself adapted as a much loved (less) progressive sitcom which went on longer than the Korean war.

Subject

Daily life at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital near the front lines of an American war in Asia. Gentle Japanese pop booms out of every speaker and one tent shows big-name Hollywood war movies. The doctors are fun-loving nihilists, very barely taking their gruesome work seriously and devoting their free time to golf, girls, alcohol, gambling and the humiliation of archists. Their warmly laid-back hedonism is almost transcendent, culminating in a surreal parody of the Last Supper and of Socrates’s suicide, to the tune of an original song: “Suicide Is Painless”.

Commentary

Deliberately unpolished and noisy, refusing to privilege its few known actors. It borders on racism and is clearly misogynistic.

References here: Apocalypse Now (1979).

fiction moving picture