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Brewster McCloud

Entry updated 8 June 2018. Tagged: Film.

Film (1970). Adler-Philips-Lion's Gate Films/MGM. Directed by Robert Altman. Written by Doran William Cannon. Cast includes René Auberjonois, Bud Cort, Shelley Duvall, Stacy Keach, Sally Kellerman, Michael Murphy and William Windom. 104 minutes. Colour.

Made by one of the most important new directors of the 1970s, Robert Altman (who had become celebrated with M*A*S*H and was to become more so with Nashville), Brewster McCloud uses sf ideas embedded in a Fantasy matrix. The story, told elliptically, emphasizes a symbolic, avian iconography through crosscutting. An obsessed young man, Brewster McCloud (Cort), lives hidden in the Houston Astrodome and spends much of the film constructing himself a pair of wings (see Flying), with which he hopes to escape his Earthbound inability to cope with work, sex and life in Texas. Ultimately he does fly, magnificently, before fluttering exhaustedly and crashing to the floor of the Astrodome, where he dies. He is assisted throughout by an enigmatic de-winged female angel or fairy godmother (Kellerman) of coquettish if not carnal tendencies, who arranges on his behalf a series of homicides, always involving birds. The film is witty, self-conscious, and foreshadows most of the themes which were to become important in Altman's later work. [PN]


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