TechnoFILE is copyright and a registered trademark © ® of
Pandemonium Productions.
All rights reserved.
E-mail us Here!

M*A*S*H on DVD

Restored "Mashterpiece"

Robert Altman's M*A*S*H was a groundbreaking hit when it came out in 1970, and 20th Century Fox has given it the "Five Star Collection" treatment with this deluxe 2 disc set.

It has aged fairly well, too, and the restoration looks great in almost every shot.

If you've only seen the TV series, you owe it to yourself to see the original, which is far better.

Viewed after the September 11, 2001 massacre and the US military response, however, its liberal anti-military stance seems more than a tad off base, let alone tasteless. In this film, all the regular Army people are incompetent and unintelligent buffoons, while the short timers are the salt of the earth regardless of how they act - and they consistently mistreat others in a manner that should have the politically correct crowd howling in disgust, except that they don't do that if the people you're harrassing are white, male, Christian, etc.

But M*A*S*H is a product of the Vietnam era and this reviewer can remember agreeing wholeheartedly with its bent back then. Just goes to show that people can mature as Hollywood stands still.

Anyway, the film is a comedic look at army sugeons and their support staff at a Korean War mobile army sugical hospital, and how these people manage to cope with life as they try to save horribly shot up soldiers near the front lines of that conflict.

The ensemble cast is led by Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould and Tom Skerritt as a trio of ace surgeons who work hard performing lifesaving miracles when necessary, then unwind from the carnage with booze, broads, and buffoonery.

Robert Duvall is their nemesis during the first half of the movie. His Frank Burns isn't the immature Burns of the TV series, but a deeply religious, though questionably skilled man who's also trying to cope with the horrors he sees every day. But the three surgeons gang up on him and make his life a living hell until, goaded unmercifully by Hawkeye (Sutherland) he snaps and attacks him, then leaves the movie in a straightjacket. The foil for the second third is Hot Lips O'Houlihan (Sally Kellerman) as the tough as nails but highly skilled head Nurse, who is also humiliated unmercifully - though she ends up becoming one of the gang. The final third of the movie sees the guys taking on the military establishment by any means possible.

Director Altman uses overlapping dialogue (that's sometimes almost unintelligible, though very realistic) and great camera work to lend a sense of reality to the unreality on the screen. This was the film that made him, and his cast, famous, and it isn't hard to see why.

Despite this reviewer's 21st century angst over it, M*A*S*H was a groundbreaking film and it's nice to see it given its due on DVD.

And it has been. Fox's Five Star treatment starts off with a THX-certified remastering job of the restored film, and the anamorphic widescreen picture is top notch. The colors (there's a lot of green, as in olive drab, and plenty of red, as in blood) are bright and clean and the picture is sharp and easy on the eyes.

The audio is Dolby Digital "stereo", and while the quality isn't up to that of the video, it's understandable considering the state of the audio art those days - coupled with the fact that M*A*S*H was basically a low budget film and that type of movie didn't usually give a lot of attention to the audio.

It works to the DVD's benefit, however, helping to impart a sense of realism and a feeling of really being there - especially the recorded music and announcements blaring over the decidedly low fidelity camp PA system.

Disc One also includes a running commentary by director Altman, and a wonderful half hour AMC Backstory documentary that reunites the director and many of the cast members. There's also a still photo gallery and the original theatrical trailer.

Disc Two includes "Enlisted: the Story of M*A*S*H", an all new documentary on the film's creation, as well as a "History through the Lens" background documentary that also deals with the actual people who inspired the novel and the movie. A special treat is the 30th anniversary cast reunion section.

There's also a feature on the restoration of the film.

In all, it's a terrific package.

M*A*S*H, from 20th Century Fox Home Video
116 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital Stereo and mono
Starring Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skerrit, Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall
Produced by Ingo Preminger
Written by Ring Lardner, Jr. Directed by Robert Altman


Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think













Support TechnoFile
via Paypal

TechnoFILE's E-letter
We're pleased to offer
our FREE private,
private E-mail service.
It's the "no brainer"
way to keep informed.

Our Privacy Policy

Updated May 5, 2010