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DirectorFranklin J. Schaffner
Release Date(s)1970 (November 6, 2012)
Studio(s)20th Century Fox
George C. Scott’s 1970 portrayal of General George S. Patton Jr. in Twentieth Century Fox’s Patton constitutes the finest piece of acting work that I’ve seen on the screen. I’ve probably watched the film in its entirety 20 times over the past 35 years and I never fail to be impressed by Scott’s complete immersion in the role. He convinces you utterly that he is Patton and there is never a second in which the characterization wavers. It’s a mesmerizing and powerful performance. That the rest of the film – from its casting (including a great job by Karl Malden as Omar Bradley) to its writing (a brilliant script by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund North), well-organized direction by Franklin Schaffner (who succeeds with both the film’s reflective moments and its action sequences, the latter powerfully effective without the ridiculous rapid cutting that characterizes current-day battle scenes), and a memorable score by Jerry Goldsmith – is also superior makes for an entertainment that is everything that a motion picture experience should be.
Of course, Patton has been released on disc before in both 2-disc and single-disc DVD editions as well as 2-disc Blu-ray. Most of you will already be aware though that the Blu-ray version was widely disappointing, as its 2.20:1/1080p video presentation was “digitally mastered” to the point of being unwatchable. The company involved in the re-master intentionally filtered away all trace of grain from the image such that very little of the detail that should have been present in a 65mm negative transfer was left. Thankfully Twentieth Century Fox’s Senior Vice-President of Library and Technical Services, Schawn Belston, has been given the chance to correct this injustice and the resulting BD presentation is exemplary. Finally, fans of this film can view Patton with all the clarity, quality and detail they’ve come to expect from 65mm films on Blu-ray. Contrasts and colors are beautifully rendered. A very fine grain texture is just visible in the image along with all the requisite detail. A few shots – usually involving titles or other opticals – are a bit soft looking, but that’s in the film itself. The Blu-ray retains the same 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack as the previous BD, which is fine as the mix is of fine quality. For much of the film the emphasis is on the dialogue and the forward portion of the soundstage, but when the action starts there’s plenty of sonic thunder and directional effects. Both dialogue and Goldsmith’s brilliant score are well represented, in very good quality and clarity. Our hats off (and our thanks) to Belston and his team. One suspects they were as eager to make this title right on Blu-ray as fans of the film were to have it so.
In every other, this remastered disc is identical to the previous 2-disc Blu-ray release – menus, promo trailers… everything. The film is presented on a BD-50, complete with video introduction and audio commentary by screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola – both well worth your time. All the other supplements are on disc two of the set which is a standard DVD disc. They include a trio of documentaries (The Making of Patton, History Through the Lens: Patton – A Rebel Revisited and Patton’s Ghost Corps), the film’s trailer and Goldsmith’s complete score presented separately in conjunction with a production still gallery. So there’s no need to fear losing anything by upgrading any of your previous editions with this new remastered version.
At long last, we’re pleased to say this: Patton on Blu-ray comes very highly recommended.
- Barrie Maxwell (original film review) and Bill Hunt (Remastered BD review)