“In the opening shots of Robert Altman’s “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” the camera follows John McCabe (Warren Beatty) making his way on horseback through the green-brown hills of the Pacific Northwest. As the camera pans slowly to the right, it picks up the credits, hanging in the rain-soaked air. They don’t fade in, as most credits do. Like everything else in “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” they seem to have existed before we took our seats in the theater, before Altman started filming.
“McCabe & Mrs. Miller” is a western that, as shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, looks like old photographs lit from within, as though the subjects had created a sort of afterlife by finding a way to project their essence onto the film. The movie haunts you like a ballad whose tune you remember but whose words hang just beyond reach. And like listening to a ballad, we know the outcome of the events we’re watching was foretold long ago, but we’re helpless to do anything but surrender to the tale. Read More »