Plot: What’s it about?
George Patton (George C. Scott) believed he was born for the battlefield, an intense student of historic battles and military strategy. His mind was honed in on finding ways to defeat his enemies, but his ego and showmanship would sometimes be obstacles in his life. He would rise through the military ranks, seeking to make himself and his accomplishments known to all. When he took command of some troops in Northern Africa, he led them to run out the German forces in the area and then found even more success with his maneuvers. His brilliance on the battlefield saved his career when his ego caused him to cross lines, in situations where other men would have been discharged. His fame grew through the Normany operations and Battle of the Bulge, but was Patton just an arrogant tyrant, or one of the true military geniuses, or both?
This film was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won over of those nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor. Patton is not the typical war movie, as it isn’t so much about war as it is a man within a war. George C. Scott brings Patton to life in a performance that will stand the tolls of time, including the timeless scene where he delivers a speech in front of the American flag backdrop. Scott is a force of nature here in a role he was born to play, but also impressive are the direction and writing behind him. The direction is excellent and even at almost three hours, we’re never bored even for a second, while Francis Ford Coppola’s writing hits every nail on the head. This is a prime example of when all the tumblers click into place, a movie that has it all. Patton’s debut in high definition is a grand one, with a great transfer and some great extras. So if you’re going to see Patton, this is the best way to see it.
Video: How does it look?
Patton is presented in 2.20:1 anamorphic widescreen. I was pleased with this new transfer and while it might not be perfect, it offers a sizable improvement over the standard release. There is a good amount of grain, but the visuals don’t seem soft, as detail is strong in most scenes. Perhaps not three dimensional, as we’ve been spoiled to expect from high definition, but well detailed with depth that captures your eyes’ attention. The colors are mostly drab, but what is here looks good and when more vivid hues emerge, they shine here. So in the end, I think fans will be pleased and Fox has delivered a more than solid catalog transfer with this high definition release of Patton.
Audio: How does it sound?
The lossless DTS HD 5.1 option is impressive, with great presence and skilled surround use. When the surrounds come to life here, they’re not just loud, they’re put to great use. So individual elements can be heard as they travel through the speakers, which can be more than a little memorable. The air raid scenes in specific pack a punch, but across the board, the surround use is skilled and effective. The film’s score is well handled too, while dialogue is clear and never hindered. In short, this is a great remix and one that adds greatly to the experience. This release also includes a 5.0 surround option, French and Spanish language tracks, and subtitles in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The first disc houses an introduction by Francis Ford Coppola, as well as a feature length commentary from Coppola, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay. Coppola is by no means energetic, but he has a lot of good information here and provides an inside take on the production. So a little dry and dull, but still quite informative. The second disc has a wealth of featurettes, including History Through the Lens: Patton, a combination of clips from the film and real archival footage. This allows us to learn even more about Patton and see how accurate the film was with its take on the general. Patton’s Ghost Corps reunites some of Patton’s actual soldiers and allows them to voice their opinions, which aren’t all positive. This is a terrific inclusion, as these men knew Patton and served under him, so their insights are priceless. The Making of Patton is a general behind the scenes piece with decent depth, but don’t expect the world from this one. This release also includes a still photos slideshow with informative audio essay, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.