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Watch: Robert Altman’s Best Overlapping Dialogue … In Three Minutes!

Watch: Robert Altman's Best Overlapping Dialogue ... In Three Minutes!

While there are many trademarks that define his extensive body of work, Robert Altman’s films may be most easily recognized through the director’s unique approach to dialogue.  Rather than utilizing the more traditional give-and-take approach to a conversation, Altman would have two, three, or even entire rooms full of people delivering their lines at the same time.  This overlapping dialogue, while unconventional and often difficult to comprehend, created a sense of realism that became a staple of Altman’s films.  Altman never seemed to be overly concerned with creating a digestible piece of cinema–he recreated life and dropped us right in the middle of it.  We do not simply view a Robert Altman picture, we experience it in full immersion.  Here is a three-minute showcase of Altman’s famous approach to dialogue. 

Films featured, in order of appearance:

M.A.S.H.
McCabe and Mrs. Miller 
Thieves Like Us
Nashville
Popeye
The Player
Short Cuts
Kansas City
Dr. T & the Women
Gosford Park
The Company
A Prairie Home Companion

Jacob T. Swinney is an industrious film editor and filmmaker, as well as a recent graduate of Salisbury University.

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