One of the greatest screen biographies ever produced, Patton
is a monumental film that won seven Academy Awards and gave George C Scott the greatest role of his career. It was released in 1970 when protest against the Vietnam War still raged in the States and abroad. Inevitably, many critics and filmgoers struggled to reconcile the events of the day with the film's glorification of US General George S Patton as a crazy-brave genius of World War II; how could a film so huge in scope and so fascinated by its subject be considered an anti-war film? The simple truth is that it's not--Patton
is less about World War II than about the rise and fall of a man whose life was literally defined by war and who felt lost and lonely without the grand-scale pursuit of an enemy. George C Scott embodies his role so fully, so convincingly, that we can't help but be drawn to and fascinated by Patton as a man who is simultaneously bound for hell and glory. The film's opening monologue alone is a masterful display of acting and character analysis and everything that follows is sheer brilliance on the part of Scott and director Franklin J Schaffner, aided in no small part by composer Jerry Goldsmith's masterfully understated score.
Filmed on an epic scale at literally dozens of European locations, Patton does not embrace war as a noble pursuit, nor does it deny the reality of war as a breeding ground for heroes. Through the awesome achievement of Scott's performance and the film's grand ambition, General Patton shows all the complexities of a man who accepted his role in life and (like Scott) played it to the hilt. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
On the DVD: The widescreen print of the movie (which was originally filmed using a super-wide 70mm process called "Dimension 150") is handsomely presented on the first disc, with a remastered Dolby 5.1 soundtrack. It is accompanied by a rather dry "Audio essay on the historical Patton" read by the president and founder of the General George S. Patton Jr. historical society. The second, supplementary disc carries a new and impressive 50-minute "making-of" documentary, with significant contributions from Fox president Richard Zanuck, as well as composer Jerry Goldsmith and Oliver Stone. Director Franklin J. Schaffner (who died in 1989) and star George C. Scott are heard in interviews from 1970. In the documentary, Stone provocatively complains that Patton glorified war and that President Nixon's enthusiasm for the movie was directly responsible for his decision to invade Cambodia. Also on this disc, in a separate audio-only track, is Jerry Goldsmith's magnificent music score--one of his greatest achievements--heard complete with studio session takes for the famous "Echoplex" trumpet figures. --Mark Walker