Altman Blames Violent Movies for Inspiring Terrorists

Directors Robert Altman — of such hit-and-miss ensemble films like The Player and Prêt-á-Porter — and Oliver Stone — of such bombastic fare as Natural Born Killers and JFK — couldn't be farther apart on the moviemaking spectrum, but they're united in blaming Hollywood, at least in part, for last month's terrorist attacks. At a recent industry panel, Stone rambled somewhat incoherently about media conglomerates and the mediocrity of Hollywood product causing the Taliban-led terrorists to "revolt," while Altman is saying that the terrorists got their inspiration from American movies. "The movies set the pattern, and these people have copied the movies," the art-house director told The Associated Press on Tuesday by phone from London, where he's finishing his first all-British film, Gosford Park. "Nobody would have thought to commit an atrocity like that unless they'd seen it in a movie," he said

The 76-year-old filmmaker, who is acclaimed for his films from the 1970s, including Nashville, M*A*S*H, and McCabe and Mrs. Miller, posited to AP that violent action movies amount to training films for such bold attacks, as studios spend a lot of time and money trying to appeal to young males. "How dare we continue to show this kind of mass destruction in movies," raged Altman, whose film Nashville involved an assassination at a music concert. "I just believe we created this atmosphere and taught them how to do it."

Altman hopes audiences will lean more toward thoughtful, character-driven films — gee, like the ones he makes? — after witnessing the horror of the attacks on television.

"Maybe there's a chance to get back to … grown-up films," Altman said. "Anything that uses humor and dramatic values to deal with human emotions and gets down to what people are to people."