NASHVILLE Blu Ray Review – Altman Don’t Worry Me

A film that caused a sensation in its release in 1975 NASHVILLE is one of the finest works by the late, great legendary Robert Altman who was famous for his feature films with many characters and intimate storylines all bouncing off of each other. To describe this movie is difficult as it’s more of an experience and a flow rather than a through storyline; taking place over the course of a few days around a music festival, a 

The cast here is incredible and I don’t even know where to begin. Seeing Henry Gibson belt out “200 Years” and wanting multiple takes. A pre-SHINING Shelly Duvall all decked out in short-shorts and long legs. A gorgeous Lily Tomlin whose character is passionate about music but also loving to her deaf children. 70s legend Michael Murphy who is a throughline of sorts. The womanizing David Carradine in a famous sequence where he sings “I’m Easy” to a longing shot of Tomlin in the back of the audience. And so many more. Later I would see the likes of MAGNOLIA and see a lot of Paul Thomas Anderson’s influence, even going so far as to include some of the cast in his movie as well. 

NASHVILLE is a complete experience. You simply just sit back and revel in the many storylines, random moments, multiple conversations all showcasing a place and time that is long gone and never returning. What a special movie this is. 

About the Blu Ray: 

Having reviewed several 4k discs as of late, it’s a good reminder when I see a Blu Ray such as NASHVILLE that the 1080p Blu Ray format still has a lot of benefits. I remember owning a widescreen DVD of this movie in the early 2000’s, and later the movie was restored for a 2013 Blu Ray edition from Criterion Collection which is now out of print.

A new 4k mastering has happened here (NOW making me wish there was a 4k Blu Ray release, but maybe one day) and the restoration work really shows. Immediately after the worn out, scratched up Paramount logo (don’t worry readers, it’s intentional) the rich colors (through a special film processing unique to the era) and wonderful film grain look pops off the screen. NASHVILLE was shot in anamorphic and Altman uses every single inch of the frame for his compositions, and all of it looks stunning.

The sound mix is also very unique; Altman also devised a special recording system to record the multi-layered dialogue, and was one of the very first Dolby Stereo releases. The DTS Master Audio wonderfully presents the panning dialogue along with the then-powerful stereo surrounds and separate channels of the music. It’s not a dynamic mix compared to more modern movies, but to just think about how this changed movie sound in the 70s is pretty remarkable. 

There is a solid 15 minute documentary reflecting on NASHVILLE, and what’s great here is that it includes an old interview with Altman along with a treasure trove of production photographs and recent Zoom interviews with some of the people associated with the movie. It plays fast and quick, and it’s a great little feature for a movie that pretty much speaks for itself. I shed a few tears listening to Altman’s commentary track (ported over from the Criterion release), which is loose and laid-back, just like the overall vibe of the movie. 

Rounding out the disc are a few vintage trailers for NASHVILLE and Altman’s bizarre POPEYE, along with URBAN COWBOY for some odd reason, but I’m glad they are all there. Bonus points for the Paramount “Coming Soon” drum jingle which I never get tired of.

While this release is part of the Paramount Presents line where the disc comes in a special case with slipcover, I was sent the basic Blu Ray release with a normal cover. Even so, this is a terrific Blu Ray release with a gorgeous new transfer and is one of the best movies of the 1970s to add to your collection.

NASHVILLE is now available on Blu Ray from Paramount. Many thanks to Paramount PR for sending along a copy for review. 

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