MASH (1970)

MASH PosterFrom The staff of a Korean War field hospital use humor and hijinks to keep their sanity in the face of the horror of war.

Why I Chose It: After discovering that I didn’t know M*A*S*H (the tv show) was based on a movie, my father insisted I watch it.

The Review:

I am really glad I watched this movie. I think it was a good start to watching “older” movies because I was already vaguely familiar with the setting and the characters from the tv show. One of the coolest aspects of this movie was seeing actors that I know as more … ahem, “senior” actors, who are all very young in the movie. The best was Donald Sutherland, who I didn’t even recognize until I heard his voice.

The first time I watched this movie, I didn’t really get it. I didn’t find it very funny, and it didn’t seem particularly deep or revealing. So I watched it again. I found it hilarious. The humour in this movie was different from what I was expecting, so I didn’t catch it the first time. I’m not even sure why I found it different. It was more subtle than I thought it would be, more off-hand comments that, when you’re paying attention, point out the irony or absurdity of a situation. On top of word-plays was the louder, more apparent humour, such as spying on the women, and golfing off the helicopter pad.


It’s an interesting contrast to have such a free sense of humour mixed in with the blood- and gore-filled operating scenes. For me it was these serious tones fit in between the comedy that really showed the depth of the characters. It didn’t matter how foolish they were during their time off; they were serious when they needed to be. It was a style of humour that I felt I could actually appreciate, and a level of seriousness that was neither sugar-coated nor extremely exaggerated. The movie didn’t try to force anything; it didn’t force the level of seriousness, nor needlessly stretch the humour, but simply delivered it and left it for you to consider. I really appreciate the way these characters made me think about the situations they were going through and how they tried to cope with it.

I think the largest difference I found with watching this movie is that I had to pay attention. I regularly listen to a movie rather than watch it: my hobbies are crafts like cross stitching, so my eyes are on my work rather than the screen. Often I only have a tenuous grasp on the conversation, because even if I miss some of the dialogue I know where we are in the plot. Let’s face it, with today’s movies you don’t have to watch the screen to know when there’s a car chase happening, and more often than not, the dialogue is filler to reveal minor points that barely move the plot forward. But I found with watching MASH that I had to both watch and listen to really understand what I was watching. It was a much more encompassing experience, something I’ve been seriously lacking in recent movies.

MASH xray

This was one of those movies that becomes better when watching the director’s commentary. Although the commentary on this movie was a little slow, it revealed a lot of points about the movie that I hadn’t noted while watching. I felt that I learned a lot about the characters, and the over all tone of the movie from watching the commentary.

Overall, I really enjoyed watching this movie. It was incredibly refreshing and just felt so different than movies from today – a difference that I can really appreciate. Something about the movie just worked for me, and it’s definitely a movie I want to watch again. While there were some parts I wasn’t thrilled with (I wasn’t particularly fond of the football game) everything seemed to fit together in a cohesive picture, which was both interesting and entertaining to watch.

Rating: 4 / 5




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