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In Memory of Robert Altman: "We want great films with long shelf lives."

Reel Life Wisdom Quote from: The Player (1992) - Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins)

altmanRobert Altman died today at the age of 81. He was a risk-taker in film whose willingness to assemble great actors and let them improvise has resulted in some great films (M.A.S.H., McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Gosford Park) and some very good ones (Nashville, The Player, A Prairie Home Companion).

In his 1992 movie, 'The Player', Altman artfully exposes the shallow underbelly of a grain-fed and heartless Hollywood. Randomly-selected focus group participants are given more creedence than creative film-makers with a novel idea. As a result, the quality of studio-produced films diminishes with every sequel.

Griffin Mill (played by Tim Robbins) is the studio executive at the center of 'The Player'. He tells a room of self-occupied studio executives that, "We want great films with long shelf lives", with full awareness that nothing is further from the truth. In fact, Hollywood wants films that make money. Quality is optional.

Robert Altman was focused on making great films. He took the risks required to be great. He trusted his actors and his own instincts, not those of people selected randomly from a crowd. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn't. Always its intent was an artist's analysis of an aspect of life. As a result of this commitment to quality, Altman produced some great films that will be watched throughout the ages. For this, I'm sure he would be proud.

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