Groundbreaking filmmaker Robert Altman, long considered one of America’s most significant cinematic auteurs, passed away in Los Angeles on Monday night. Although Altman recently admitted to having undergone a heart transplant in the last decade, the cause of death was revealed to be complications from cancer. He was 81.
Perhaps best known for MASH and Nashville, Altman’s other critical successes included McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye, The Player, Short Cuts and, most recently, Gosford Park. Highly influential, his main innovations were cinematographically favoring extended, unbroken tracking shots, creating a painterly effect, and allowing his actors a large degree of improvisation and spontaneity. The five-time Oscar nominee’s use of overlapping dialogue and plotlines, often with large ensembles, has also proved seminal.