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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Patton (1970): A movie about the famous General

There have been a number of movies made on the Vietnam War, with some of them such as 'Deer Hunter', Apocalypse Now', 'Platoon', and recently 'Forrest Gump' having attained iconic status. A lot of these movies have now focused on the severe trauma of battle, with the physical and mental affect on the people involved. Many of them have been very brutal in their depiction of the actual war scenes, and were far from the jingoistic patriotic depiction of war (and this could be because of the Vietnam War being a very controversial war, with opinion being divided on whether this war was even necessary). Movies made on the second world war have not faced this moral dilemma, and hence have not focused so much on the trauma (with even the ultra-realistic movie such as 'Saving Private Ryan' and the 'Thin Red Line' showing the horror of war, but staying away from a mental deterioration of the soldiers involved).

Patton the movie (1970)

Patton was a movie made on a heavily decorated (and highly controversial) soldier of the War, General George S Patton (Wikipedia) (played by George C. Scott). General Patton was a major architect in the victory for the US Army in the Second World War, with his passion for discipline, and his fast movement through Europe after the Normandy Landings. He also played a key role in the missions in Morocco expanding to other parts of North Africa, and then Sicily. Another of his great missions was in deceiving the Germans about the actual landing of the Allied forces in Europe, with the 'Operation Fortitude' being designed to convince the Germans that Patton was the head of an army that would attack through the French town of Calais. They were successful in this deception, with the Germans being unconvinced of the landing at Normandy.
Patton was a person who was not very well liked by his troops, with his emphasis on discipline, and a strong focus on the mission. He was not particularly fond of humour directed against him either. However, he was a General whom the Germans had feared because of his strong and pretty effective tactics; his focus on making the breakout in the push into France and then Germany in a fast and very mobile manner (they were only stopping because they ran out of fuel) prevented the Germans from being able to recoup.
The film starts off with a resounding speech by George Scott with an massive American Flag behind him; this opening speech and the entire shot has become iconic. The movie fairly accurately captures the nature of the General as we get to see the military life-story of the General in the War, with his successes in North Africa, and then in Sicily. After getting into trouble due to having slapped a soldier (and with Eisenhower forcing him to apologize for that incident), he comes back into action after the Normandy landing. The movie also captures the rapid downfall of this celebrated soldier after that, when his biases against the Russians (although his opinion of what would happen in East Europe after the Soviets took control came true), his tolerating of the ex-Nazis in German areas under his control, and his outbursts subsequently led to his losing his position.
The movie was a success, and also won 7 Oscars:
- Best Actor (George Scott refused to accept, considering the awards to be a meat parade of actors)
- Best Art Direction-Set Decoration,
- Best Director,
- Best Film Editing,
- Best Picture,
- Best Sound and
- Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced
- Best Cinematography,
- Best Effects,
- Special Visual Effects and
- Best Music, Original Score

The movie was directed by . It stars George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates, and Karl Michael Vogler. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, and was based on a script by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North.

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