Thursday, November 18, 2010

1970: Patton

General George S. Patton, Jr is one of the most controversial heroes in American history.  This film follows him through Europe during World War II, where his primary goal is to defeat the Germans, but his sharp tongue and confrontational manner help him make plenty of enemies among his allies.

The first thing I have to say about this film is that George C. Scott does an absolutely fantastic job of portraying General Patton.  Scott manages to make audiences like him and dislike him simultaneously, which perfectly illustrates the controversies surrounding Patton himself.  This could have been just another war film, but it isn't, thanks to the complexity of its title character and the depth that Scott brings to that character.

There are times when this film drags a bit, and I think it could be significantly shortened.  But the character development is superb.  Even characters who are never seen, like Eisenhower, have clear objectives and distinct personalities.  The filmmakers made an interesting choice in deciding to give us glimpses of the German perspective, which is very effective, especially since they're actually speaking German.  And this film has more than its characters to recommend it.  The camera angles are extremely well thought out, the soundtrack is perfect, and the special effects are actually quite good, even by today's standards.  This movie manages to combine explosions with a good storyline, and I appreciate how rare that is.

This is by no means my favorite Best Picture Winner.  I found it hard to follow and rather tedious at times, and it was definitely on the long side.  But there were other parts that I really liked.  On the whole I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I was going to, particularly since I knew very little about General Patton prior to watching this.  While I'm not entirely sure how historically accurate this film is, it definitely conveys the idea that there are multiple sides to every story, especially this one, so there is no way to make a historical film that will satisfy everyone.  Basically, I liked this film but I didn't like it, which I think is a perfectly appropriate reaction to a film about such a controversial historical figure.

Next Best Picture: The French Connection

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