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"Suicide is painless" : les usages iconoclastes de la religion dans "MASH", de Robert Altman (1970)

Abstract : "Suicide is painless": debunking religion in Robert's Altman's M.A.S.H. (USA, 1970). M.A.S.H. won the Palme d'Or in the 1970 Cannes film festival and made Robert Altman famous overnight. The film is a ferocious satirical piece on the US army, taking place in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital located a few miles back from the combat zone during the Korean war ; it made people laugh unreservedly and opened with a song entitled "Suicide is painless". This song is heard again towards the middle of the film, in a 8 minute-long sequence which offers a jubilant caricature of the scene of the Last Supper, when Jesus talks to the apostles for the last time. This essay aims to show that beyond the graphic -and funny- criticism of religious rituals (mainly Catholic) linked to death and burial, the sequence questions the prohibition of suicide. In an era when an imperialistic country was sending a sizeable portion of its own youth to useless destruction, are the crass and sexist jokes of the MASH doctors more obscene than the thousands of deaths of the Vietnam war? The unexpected success of the film also addresses the complex issue of the reception of caricature is concerned, as Robert Altman himself made it clear.
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https://hal.univ-brest.fr/hal-00749259
Contributor : Violaine Garguilo <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - 9:57:56 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 3:16:42 PM

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  • HAL Id : hal-00749259, version 1

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Gaïd Girard. "Suicide is painless" : les usages iconoclastes de la religion dans "MASH", de Robert Altman (1970). Ridiculosa, 2008, pp.85-94. ⟨hal-00749259⟩

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