Chattering Mind

I found a choppy, but fact-filled run-down on the religious upbringing of late, great film director Robert Altman:

“Catholicism was, to me, school,’ he has said. “It was restrictions; it was things you had to do. It was your parents. It was Mass on Sunday and fish on Friday. And then when I got out of that, I got into the Army. It was the same thing–you had to have a pass to get out. You had to wear this kind of clothes, and you had to address them so-and-so . . . you’ve got to wear a tie to get into this restaurant or you’ve got to have a suit if you’re going to the party. Or you don’t try to [have sex with] a girl on the first date if she comes from a good family. All of those things. I was never a revolutionary. Those were just some of the things in life that you had to do.”

Yet many people who know Altman feel his half-denials of Catholicism are but proof in reverse that Catholicism is embedded deeply in his life and in his films. And that the guilt, the fatalistic viewpoint, the themes of death and redemption, the ambivalent attitude toward women and family, the furtive sex and love, the questioning of command and leadership (which is a kind of Jesuitical questioning of God)–all of these, so prevalent in his films–have their roots in his early Catholicism.

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