Many movies depict history. Far fewer actually become part of history. One such film is without a doubt, Patton. It would be almost impossible to relate the whole story line here but I think just about everyone knows what this movie is about. Patton was one of the most famous generals in the US Army during World War II. He was known for being an eccentric person, believing in reincarnation, super rich, he had his own uniforms hand made, and perhaps one of the greatest strategist that ever lived. This movie is long, almost three hours. Its not so much that there is length to this film, there is grandeur. For only a grand movie could portray such a bigger than life man. The film chronicles Patton during WWII and continues up to his untimely death. This movie is the apex of the war hero genre, depicting a man that lived for battle, fought for what he believed and expected all others to live up to his expectations. The film is full of classic moments, far too many to list here. From the famous opening scene of Patton standing in front of a huge American flag to him shooting at enemy aircraft with his side arm, Patton was a man that commanded as general not from behind as so many did but from the front lines.
The cast of this film is excellent but even with many notable actors none can compare to the portrayal of Patton by George C. Scott. Scott was perhaps one of Americas finest actors. He does not merely act as Patton, it is obvious that he all but became Patton. A film is a combination of elements, direction, story, scenery etc but in Patton it is Scott that propelled this film to become one of the AFIs top 100. Scott made history during the 1971 Oscars when he refused to accept the best actor award feeling it was wrong for actors to compete. He felt that actors should perfect their craft and compete against themselves for a personal best, not enter into some popularity contest. Regardless of whether he accepted the award or not, he earned it for his role as Patton.
The Oscars of 1971 also went to Patton for best picture and best director. Franklin J. Schaffners direction of this film is flawless. It is difficult for most directors to maintain the pace of a film for less than two hours. Schaffner does it for almost three. The time goes by without notice as you are drawn into the life of Patton. His attention to every detail of the film is noticeable and greatly appreciated. Among his other films are such films as Papillon, Boys From Brazil and Planet of the Apes. His style and flair for so many different genres of film will be missed.
The DVD is a two-disc set. One disc devoted to the film while the other contains the added features. The second disc has a fascinating Making Of feature that most will watch with apt attention. The commentary track on the main disc is an audio history of General Patton. While not in synch with the film it is interesting none the less. The sound is a remixed Dolby 5.1. The sounds of battle are not as realistic as a film like Private Ryan but it does its job. The video is from an original Dimension-150 print. D-150 was used for only two movies, Patton and The Bible (but staring Scott). It provided an awesome 150 degrees of visual range. The non-anamorphic 1:2.35 ration puts you right in the middle of the movie. This is a keeper for anyone interested in an excellent film.