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review added: 5/26/00



Patton
Special Edition - 1970 (1999) - 20th Century Fox

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Patton: Special Edition Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B-/A-

Specs and Features

Disc One: The Film
171 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:27:50, at the start of chapter 20), Amaray dual keep case packaging, audio essay by Patton historian Charles Province, booklet containing a time-line of Patton's life, theatrical trailers for Patton, Tora! Tora! Tora!, and The Longest Day, film-themed menu screens, scene access (37 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD Mono), subtitles: English, Spanish, Closed Captioned

Disc Two: Supplements
NR, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray dual keep case packaging, documentary The Making of Patton (50 mins), Jerry Goldsmith's complete musical score, languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD Mono), subtitles: English, Spanish, Closed Captioned

"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."

These hard words are the first spoken in this epic film, and set the stage as director Franklin J. Schaffner presents the legend known as General George S. Patton (played brilliantly by George C. Scott). Patton, an army general in World War II who commanded tank divisions in Europe and North Africa, was a grizzly war dog who had a passion for battle, but also for mankind and honor. The brutish take-no-prisoners side of his personality was balanced by his love of poetry, and the respect and utter caring he felt for the men he commanded.

The General's life, victories, and struggles during WWII are the foundation for the film Patton. With the guidance of Patton's real-life friend and confidant General Omar Bradley (who served as a consultant for the film), writers Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North, and director Franklin J. Schaffner, paint a vivid and realistic picture of the man behind the legend.

General Patton's keen sense of warfare and charismatic method of leadership allowed him to outmaneuver his Nazi enemies. The man carefully studied history and learned many lessons from the past. In fact, Patton believed in reincarnation and was certain that in past lives he was a military man that fought gloriously in history's most important battles. Considered unstoppable by the Allies, Nazi General Rommel - The Desert Fox - was defeated in North Africa by Patton. Feeling confident in his abilities, the army brass moved Patton's division into Europe after D-Day, and the general blazed a trail of victory and glory that helped the Allies to win Europe, and in effect, the war.

General Patton never enjoyed a steady rate of political success in the army ranks. When forced into public relations situations, the General said what was on his mind without regard to the ramifications - he let his passion get the better of him. Army executives found themselves constantly apologizing for the General's remarks and actions, and were baffled by his conspicuous PR blunders. What the army failed to realize was that Patton was a warrior, not a politician. The film's description on the back of the DVD packaging says it best: "His own volatile personality was the enemy he could never defeat."

George C. Scott's portrayal of Patton demands to be seen. The character's commanding presence is intensified by his gravely voice, yet graceful way of speaking. Scott spent hours researching Patton through his many biographies and the news reels shown during the war. Not only is the audience presented with the events surrounding Patton's life, but we are also able to enter the man's mind and understand his motivations and the passions that not only made him a military genius, but also damaged his image in the public eye. Patton would have been just another war film without the important dissection of the General's psychology. This makes Patton a classic American film about a great American hero.

20th Century Fox presents Patton on DVD in anamorphic widescreen (framed at 2.35:1), although the packaging does not indicate this feature. The color fidelity of the transfer is realistic, and there is a good degree of fine picture detail. The print used for the transfer is a bit dirty, showing occasional flecks and minor scratches. There is noticeable compression artifacting, and the picture looks ever so grainy in some areas. The remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is respectable, although dated. Dialog is slightly harsh in places with closely miked ADR. The famous score by Jerry Goldsmith is nicely rendered and spread effectively across the front channels. Ambient effects and battle scenes come across pretty well for a 30-year-old film, and your subwoofer will be used in moderation for music and explosions.

Not to compromise the film's picture quality, Fox decided to include the 50-minute documentary, The Making of Patton, on a second disc. This documentary is loaded with rare behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the director, director of photography, studio execs, and others about the making of this movie. Interviews with director Schaffner, and George C. Scott are audio interviews supplemented by video of the production. The documentary also offers wartime footage of the real George S. Patton, and lets the audience see how well Scott portrayed the General. Also included on the second disc is Goldsmith's entire musical score for the film presented on an alternate audio track over the documentary. Those interested in learning more about General Patton are treated to an audio essay on the first disc that runs on an alternate audio track over the movie. What this boils down to really is a commentary track by the founder and president of the General George S. Patton Historical Society, Charles Province. The track runs approximately 81 minutes, and is not screen-specific, which is probably why Fox did not list it as a commentary track. Province has extensive knowledge of Patton's life and shares plenty of details. Fox has also included a very useful booklet with a time-line of the important events of Patton's life - a nice educational feature. And you can find the theatrical trailers for Patton, and other Fox WWII movies Tora! Tora! Tora! and The Longest Day as well. Overall, this is a very nice package of supplements that offers a balanced mix of history and Hollywood. A victory for Fox!

Patton is an enthralling epic about the life and times of one of America's most flamboyant generals. George C. Scott commands the screen as General Patton, and offers one of the best performances of his diversified career. This presentation deserves a place in any film buff's collection. Dismissed!

Greg Suarez
gregsuarez@thedigitalbits.com




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