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Patton is a three-dimensional bronze bust of World War II field general George S. Patton who wrote poetry, fired pistols at strafing fighter planes, and loved the United States of America with a lofty and historical zeal. Tracing his personal rivalries with such generals as Rommel and Montgomery, his problematic treatment of his own men, and his nearly runaway contempt for diplomacy, the film triumphs as an enduring portrait of a complex and larger-than-life figure.
For more about Patton and the Patton Blu-ray release, see Patton Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 19, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Starring: George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates, Karl Michael Vogler, Edward Binns, Jack Gwillim
Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
» See full cast & crew
Patton Blu-ray Review
Fox's war classic is a must-own on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 19, 2008
I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
Here's a movie that definitely deserved every award it received. One could easily write this review simply by going over each and every Oscar win and nomination this film earned and discuss why each was warranted, all combining to form arguably the finest war film of all time and definitely 1970's best picture. Patton is nothing short of brilliant filmmaking, foregoing any tricks, visual wonders, or worthless subplots. The film is named Patton, and the plot never deviates from the man himself, be it showcasing the famed General's exploits or cutting to scenes where the enemy desperately tried to figure out his next move and study up on his background. Director Franklin J. Schaffner (Planet of the Apes) does nothing to distract from the story, the simplicity of his filmmaking allowing the actors to shine and express to the audience every nuance of their characters. The straightforwardness of the direction plays opposite the straightforwardness of the Patton character, a man whose actions speak louder than words (even his words), a man whose simplistic, historical, and conservative approach to combat (and life) has a complexity all its own, a complexity that director Schaffner allows us to revel in for nearly three hours of remarkable filmmaking.
After the initial American defeat at the battle of Kasserine Pass, the first major engagement between American and German forces in World War II, a new commanding officer was sought, a man who could stand toe-to-toe with the famed German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel (Karl Michael Vogler). The man chosen was General George S. Patton (George C. Scott, Doctor Strangelove), a stickler for discipline amongst his men, a student of history, and in the war for personal glory as much as victory over the enemy. The film plays out a condensed version of his life and times during World War II. Beginning with his initial engagement with the Germans at the battle of El Qatar, the story also covers his rivalry with British General Bernard "Monty" Montgomery (Michael Bates, A Clockwork Orange) during the Sicily campaign, his being relieved of his command, and his reluctant performance as a decoy before the Normandy invasion. "The very thought of losing is hateful to Americans," Patton recounts at the film's open, that line bookending the story of the General's rise to power and fall from glory with the statement that "all glory is fleeting."
Of all the deserving awards garnered by the film, few if any would have been awarded had it not been for one of the singular greatest performances in the history of cinema, that of George C. Scott in the principle role. Not only did Scott portray Patton, he has since become Patton, one of the few roles in cinema history where an actor has completely transformed himself into the lead role, convincing audiences and becoming ingrained in society as the icon of that famed individual. Only a few performances in movie history can make that claim, and this is one of them, ranking right up there in the same vein as Jim Caviezel's portrayal of Jesus in The Passion of the Christ or Philip Seymour Hoffman's characterizations of Truman Capote in Capote or Dan Mahowny in Owning Mahowny. George C. Scott is General George S. Patton, and no matter how accurate or embellished some parts of the film may or may not be as they relate to the real General Patton, Scott's portrayal has nevertheless done more to advance the history and glory of the man than any biography or history text could ever accomplish.
Supporting Scott are a number of fabulous additions to the film. Perhaps nearly as stunning as the film's direction and acting is the famed score by legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith. Every note is appropriate to the action it accompanies, from the upbeat, militaristic marching themes to the dread-inducing, understated music played prior to the battle of El Qatar. The music seamlessly adds a layer of tension and inevitability to the proceedings, the score signaling the impending death and destruction to perfection. The movie also introduces and reinforces major themes about Patton to the audience through his adversaries. One standout scene features Field Marshall Rommel receiving his first briefing on Patton, a scene that without intrusiveness or logical fallacy lets the audience in on the general's personality, philosophy, and leadership skills effortlessly and intuitively, a scene that sets the stage for both the audience and for the Germans who will use their newfound knowledge against Patton as they anticipate his battle maneuvers later in the war (and in the movie). In fact, the entirety of the film is a case study in how to condense the exploits of a historical figure into a compact three-hour runtime. From the ease with which the audience sinks into the film, to the brilliant yet simple direction, the wonderful score, and acting that is second-to-none, it's no wonder why Patton has been, and will continue to be, hailed as not only one of the finest war films of all time, but one of the top cinematic treasures in history.
Patton Blu-ray, Video Quality
Patton debuts in high definition with an image quality that's simply stunning, far superior to any and all expectations I had for the transfer. The film's 1080p, 2:20:1 framed imagery looks like it was filmed yesterday. The movie screams to be witnessed on a large screen, and I felt my 65" television didn't do the scope of the movie justice. This Blu-ray disc is simply a revelation, and any and all fans of Patton are going to be ecstatic. The transfer is crisp, absolutely pristine, beautiful, and features exquisite detail, this Blu-ray edition far surpasing the quality of the two-disc DVD version of the film I own that came out in late 1999. It's not even close, really, the difference night and day, the DVD appearing soft, far less vibrant, and showcasing painfully less detail than is evident on this incredible Blu-ray disc. The Blu-ray is virtually free of any and all print blemishes, scratches, and pops that are clearly evident over the entirety of the DVD image, although a few stray hairs and nicks do creep up every now and then. Look at the image of a dead body with two scorpions walking on it just after the beginning credits are through rolling. Every single rock and grain of sand are seen individually, the detail so high that the viewer is put right in the middle of this war-ravaged area. I also noticed small nuances to the scene I had never seen before, the post-battle carnage a bit more gruesome than I remembered. The film's opening is glorious, the detail so fine on Patton's jacket and the medals thereon so vivid that you can almost reach through the screen and touch them. From first frame to last, the image is incredibly bright and clean, always sharp and radiant with excellent color reproduction and very little softness. Blacks are true and deep, and flesh tones rate as impeccably perfect. This film has barely aged a day in nearly 40 years (at least on this version), and while Patton doesn't look like I, Robot, this disc merits a top rating nevertheless, this 1970 film looking far superior to most discs on the market, 38 year old catalogue title or not.
Patton Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Patton fights on Blu-ray with an uncompressed DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound mix. The most noticeable problem here is a hiss that accompanies parts of the sound mix, a hiss that was also evident on my DVD copy's Dolby Digital 5.1 track. It's unfortunate, because that's the only thing keeping this track from achieving a level of excellence rarely heard on a soundtrack of this age. It's not as dynamic, crisp, or detailed as the tracks accompanying the new releases, but still packs quite the wallop nevertheless. The film is more dialogue-driven than it is action-oriented, and the listener is never disappointed with this aspect of the track. George C. Scott's harsh tone comes through loud and clear. The film's opening imagery along with Scott's excellent delivery definitely succeeds in making us feel like a member of the audience Patton is addressing. Jerry Goldsmith's fantastic and Oscar-nominated score comes to life like never before, every note crystal-clear and exciting, all the pomp and circumstance of the score at a parade in honor of Patton early in the film sounding better than ever. Surrounds are put to fine use at times, but ambiance and nuances are not generally to be heard. Directionality and panning are very good during the battle sequences. As two German planes strafe Patton's headquarters in chapter nine (in one of the film's most famous scenes), the roar of the engines and the speed of the planes can be felt encircling the room and buzzing back and forth for their runs. Bass isn't earth-shattering, but there are definitely some rumblings to be heard in the action sequences. The battle of El Qatar, found in chapter 11, is the first major engagement of the film. The action is loud but not as well-defined as would be expected of a newer, flashier flick, but what we do hear is frighteningly effective as explosions rock every channel and gunfire erupts from all around the viewer. Unfortunately the hiss is also audible here and proves somewhat distracting. Still, as a dialogue-driven biopic rather than a straight action film, what Fox has delivered for this Blu-ray package is nearly marvelous, all things considered.
Patton Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Patton arrives on Blu-ray with a supplemental package that is second-to-none in breadth and quality. Writer Francis Ford Coppola provides an introduction to the film (480p, 4:54) as well as a feature-length commentary track on disc one. His introduction describes the process of writing Patton, including the importance of penning a film that would appeal to both those who adore and those who disdain the general. He discusses his research, being fired from the project for writing the now-famous opening scene of the the movie, and his eventual Oscar for the script (and the weight it carried in allowing him to complete The Godfather). His commentary track is equally fantastic, not only discussing the on-screen action but cuing us in on nuances we may not have noticed before. He points out sequences that angered studio executives, recaps and expands on comments from his introduction, and offers too many wonderful stories and insights to mention here. This is undoubtedly one of the finest commentary tracks I've ever had the privilege of listening to, and is a must-listen for fans of the movie, aspiring screenwriters, filmmakers, and historians.
The second disc of this Blu-ray special edition of Patton is actually a DVD disc. Three documentaries lead off the proceedings, the first entitled History Through the Lens. 'Patton: A Rebel Revisited' (480p, 4:3, 1:30:10). Decidedly not your run-of-the-mill documentary, this is a History Channel-quality feature that takes an extremely detailed look at both the history behind the film and the film itself. It features numerous clips from the film, real footage from the war, and interviews with former 20th Century Fox studio executives, historians, World War II veterans, and even General Patton's grandson. Examined herein, for example, is the painstaking detail that went into making the film as historically accurate as possible but also looking at some of the embellishments added to the script for dramatic flair and effect, such as the rivalry between Patton and British General Bernard "Monty" Montgomery. This documentary runs the gamut of Patton, from the securing of the rights to the story to the omission of key moments in history, such as "The Hammelburg Raid," and finally to the film's reception by both "hawks" and "doves," its receipt of numerous Oscars, the reaction of the Patton family itself, and the film's status as a true American and cinematic classic.
Patton's Ghost Corps (480p, 4:3, 46:38) is the first recounting in 60 years of the stories told by The XX Corps, 63 veterans of Patton's 3rd Army. Like the first documentary, this is first-rate material. The "Ghost Corps" was a group of men Patton left behind with little support so that the General could move the bulk of his men and material to fight the Battle of the Bulge. Told from the perspective of the soldiers who actually fought in the "Ghost Corps," the drama and raw emotion is palpable from beginning to end, the stories frightening and highly detailed, and it proved difficult not to come to tears as we hear the stories recounted by the men, and they themselves sometimes break down as they tell them.
The Making of Patton (480p, 4:3, 49:49) is the original making-of feature. It includes interviews with actor George C. Scott, Oliver Stone, composer Jerry Goldsmith, and director Franklin J. Schaffner, amongst others. This is far better than the cookie-cutter documentaries coming out these days. It goes in-depth behind the film itself and its successes. Some of the basic information heard here repeats what we learned in Patton: A Rebel Revisited, but much of what is only touched on there is detailed here, the entire feature a captivating watch as the movie comes to life.
The second disc also contains a series of still galleries. Viewers have the option of watching two sets of stills, the first set gracing the screen and accompanied by Jerry Goldsmith's complete musical score. The gallery is presented in 1080p high definition and runs for 36:24. Goldsmith's score plays as a 2 channel Dolby Digital track. However, it's the Charls M. Provence historical essay track (480p, 53:19) that plays over the second gallery that proves the most entertaining and informative. Provence is both founder and president of the George S. Patton, Jr. Historical Society. He shares some wonderful insights into the famed and controversial World War II general. This is a fantastic way of bringing to life an otherwise dull feature, and I hope that studios take note and present future still galleries with audio accompaniment. Concluding the special features is Patton's original theatrical trailer (480p, 1:46).
Patton Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Patton is nothing short of spectacular. The movie plays out like a seemingly true-to-life retrospective of one of the greatest American heroes of not only the Second World War, but in all of American history. The movie also plays out as a "how-to" in filmmaking, a perfect example of just what it takes to produce a classic and enduring motion picture. As a historian and fan of war films, I'm ecstatic with this complete Blu-ray package. Patton looks marvelous on Blu-ray, surpassing The Searchers as the definitive example of just how fantastic a classic movie can look on Blu-ray. The audio quality is also good, though I found myself a bit underwhelmed with the experience, the hissing sound the primary culprit. While the supplemental materials may not be the most numerous I've seen on a Blu-ray disc, what we do have here is, in my opinion, the finest and highest quality extras on the format yet, the entire supplemental package reason enough to warrant a purchase of Patton. No matter your take on 20th Century Fox's prices for catalogue titles or the lack of extras found on many discs, Patton is certainly an exception and a bargain at its current price. Fox has done a marvelous job giving this four-star General the five-star treatment, and this package deserves a spot in every Blu-ray collection. Patton on Blu-ray receives my highest recommendation.
Patton: Other Editions
Blu-ray bundles with Patton (3 bundles)
Patton Blu-ray, News and Updates
• War Classics on Blu-ray from Fox/MGM - April 22, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment and MGM Home Entertainment have announced five war film classics coming to Blu-ray on June 3rd. MGM will bring 'Battle of Britain' and 'A Bridge Too Far', while 'The Longest Day', 'Patton', and 'The Sand Pebbles' will come from Fox. Video ...
• Patton Gets Detailed for Blu-ray - March 11, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment has revealed the the specs and special features that will be included with the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Patton', due to hit store shelves on June 3rd. Video will be presented in 1080p AVC and be accompanied by a DTS-HD Master Audio lossless ...
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