Visually, this movie lets you know constantly where it takes place and the real purpose of the M*A*S*H unit. You see the tents, and the crude living arrangements for folks who normally live quite well. You also see them operating on patients in less than ideal situations, having to make very tough choices very quickly. On top of that, they have to deal with the rigidity that is the standard operating procedure of the United States military. And somehow, in spite of all this, they manage to turn the unit into a virtual frat house. And the viewer can sympathize. The emotions these folks experience in the film are very real and understandable. And that might be why the movie was so successful and inspired one of the most popular TV shows in history.
Backstory- M*A*S*H: A brief documentary that outlines the history of the movie. All the information presented in this feature is presented in even more detail in the features on disk 2. It has interviews with the producers, the cast, and Altman. (About 22 minutes)
This disk also has a theatrical trailer, a still gallery, and the THX Opt-mode.
Disk 2- Enlisted: The Story of M*A*S*H: This documentary featurette gives a little bit more detail then the behind-the-scenes featurette on Disk 1. You begin to really get a sense of the sort of director Altman is as well as the interpersonal relationships he had with the producers, the screenwriter, and the cast. You also may begin to realize that the process and style of making this film is ultimately what eventually sold it, and that everyone thought (or thinks) that Altman is crazy, and that sort of pisses him off. And you also get to hear Sally Kellerman talk about her nude scene and you get a discussion of the “suicide is painless song”. Pretty decent stuff. (About 40 minutes)
M*A*S*H: Comedy Under Fire: Another documentary featurette, somewhat of a continuation of the one mentioned above. I found this one to actually be more interesting as it discussed the real M*A*S*H units during the Korean War. You get to find out about how the characters in the movie compare to the real life army personnel from that time period, as well as the actual folks that were inspirations for the characters themselves. Audience reaction is also discussed here, as well as the TV show. (About 45 minutes)
30th Anniversary M*A*S*H Cast Reunion: This is the Fox Movie Channel’s presentation of a special they put together when they awarded Altman with the Fox Studio’s lifetime achievement award. You get to see him get the award, then there is a roundtable discussion of the film with the cast, which really doesn’t present that much new information from the above mentioned two documentaries, but ever present is the dynamic of how everyone in the cast and crew now feels about the movie, as well as how they feel about each other (And it ain’t all warn fuzzies, either). Mysteriously absent? Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall and virtually anyone from the TV show. (About 30 minutes)
Film Restoration: They have some text written about the restoration process, both visual and audio, as well as “before and after” split screens so you can see how much the restoration improved the print, and how ultimately valuable this process is for preservation of movies (about 15 minutes).
Finally, each disk has the option of changing the menu background and audios by selecting options such as “Burns” or “Swamp”. The background picture will change to what you select and the audio is the dialogue from that part of the film.
Bonus Prescription: Just like getting the Victoria’s Secret catalogue in the mail...easter eggs! There maybe more, but I only found one: On disc 1, special features menu— Keep clicking to the right until you see a yellow helicopter appear on Hawkeye’s arm. It’s a trailer in Spanish! Yippee!