July 24, 2010
By TheGothicGunslinger ELITE, Lakeland, Florida
TheGothicGunslinger ELITE, Lakeland, Florida
177 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"To be great is to be misunderstood" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Patton is, in one word, epic. With a nearly three-hour runtime and an extravagant budget, the biographical film follows the life of a man who was legendary for both his eccentricity and his cruelty. Shortly after his death, the New York Times called General Patton "a legend...deeply religiously and violently profane". This film isn't so much about a pro-war or anti-war message, but it's a film about the enormous personality of man whose life was defined by war. Whether or not his actions are justifiable, however, is left to the contemplations of the viewer.

The film is a biography of General George S. Patton, the infamous and profane general, and specifically recounts his service years during World War II. The film's beginning, though chronologically last, is immediate in its showcasing of the general's wild and pro-war sentiments. He doesn't care for those suffering from "battle fatigue", he shows the utmost of respect to injured soldiers, and he fights simply because it gives him pleasure to do so. Patton was a man of "fire and ice", as he often blended various world views together to create a personality that had just as many strengths as it had weaknesses. In the film, we follow this man of "fire and ice" as he goes through his most famous campaigns in North Africa, Italy, and Germany.

The script is fantastic and gives life to every character on-screen. This is both because Patton was a complex man and because Francis Ford Coppola - the man who'd later direct The Godfather - was one of the co-writers of the screenplay. The script's very detail-orientated and these details translate into film marvelously. The fleeting images of brutal violence, the cold calculation and dialogue of Patton, the worries and confusion spread into Patton's rivals and adversaries by his abrupt plan changes - the film captures the essence of a man whose image was certainly polarizing. Patton alone makes for a complex narrative, as his beliefs, hypocrisy, and power made him into something that seemed larger than life. He was both a romantic and a murderer, often writing poems after slaughtering countless amounts of enemy soldiers. He could be both kind and downright cruel to his soldiers, to the point where he oftentimes deliberately confuse them in order to gain respect. "I'm the only one who needs to know", Patton says at one point regarding his behavior. In terms of spiritual beliefs, Patton was both a self-proclaimed Christian and a believer in reincarnation. He believed that God created him to kill and that he's been around for centuries in various forms, doing exactly what it is that he loves - fighting. The man was something else, that's for sure, and I could probably discuss the nuances of his personality for the rest of this article. The film exists for a reason, however, and presents Patton in a way far grander than anything I could ever hope to write.

The visuals look fantastic in this film. Combining methods and new (at the time), the film creates a dramatic film with enough widescreen shots and character-focus to make someone like Sergio Leone blush. The camerawork is amazing - I don't know how many times I can say it. It's moving, it aids in the story-telling, and even helps the audience into seeing why Patton was heralded as such a "legend". There's one point in the film, for instance, when German airplanes attack a small building that Patton and several other officers are occupying. While the officers run for shelter, Patton takes out his ivory-handled pistol and begins to shoot the planes with a mad glee in his eyes. To me, this sequence is almost a silent companion to Patton's heavily-worded monologue at the beginning of the film - both establish Patton as a man of violence and as a man who's willing to do *whatever* it takes to win.

The pacing is great, but the beginning was too slow for my tastes. In fact, that may be the only major fault I had with the film. It's fascinating from start to finish, don't get me wrong, but the North African campaign seemed to drag in various spots of the film. It slows the momentum of the film down, but the pacing gets much better once the major battle of the campaign starts. From that point on, the film's slow-moving yet elegant in its portrayal of the eccentric General Patton.

Patton the film truly captures the image of Patton the man. The film drags at first, but the rest of the film is a very detail-orientated examination of this complex man. He was both poetic yet merciless, musing yet spiteful, religious yet profane, and cold yet respectful. He was a man that many hated, many adored, but few understood.

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