Robert Altman’s Nashville is the type of film that can best be described as a mosaic, an epic story of small moments, connecting dozens of characters over two hours and forty minutes. Films of this nature don’t get made often, and often get screwed up (the late Garry Marshall tried multiple times without success), but when they do turn out well they tend to be the kind of films that feel like grand statements on the human condition. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia is one such film, and Nashville entirely fits the bill as well.
I’ve written about a few post-Watergate thrillers recently (Klute, All the President’s Men) that have notable themes of conspiracy and paranoia throughout, and it’s hard not to make a connection between the Watergate scandal and this shift in the popular culture. Americans were really woken up to the realization that the government, and big institutions with a lot of influence and power, can be corrupt and insidious, can threaten traditional American values and beliefs.