Friday, March 27, 2015

Movie Review: Patton

     I know much less about General Patton than I should. In fact, I don’t remember much at all about him, except a vague mention of his simultaneously reckless and effective strategies in battle. So I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I decided to watch Patton.

     The opening scene is quite powerful, and tells us everything we need to know about Patton. Brilliant but egotistical, war-hungry, and charismatic, an opening scene focusing solely on him tells us he will dominate every scene. One by one, we are introduced to the different facets: the strict commander who arrives to whip the boys into shape; the cultured poet who dreams of past wars; and the reckless hothead who jumps out a window to shoot at German planes. With a pistol. (It didn't happen in real life, but it wouldn't be a bit surprising if it had.)


     Patton was a very divisive figure, and I think this movie showed why. He was a brilliant thorn in the side, a military genius who didn’t know when to quit, a charismatic leader with an ego he could not control. Yet all this time we see him gaining self-awareness-slowly, but still steadily. Near the beginning of the movie, he slaps a soldier suffering from PTSD and calls him a coward. Near the end, he finds a shell-shocked man after a devastating battle and kisses his head. At the end, he recalls the Roman triumph custom of having a slave whisper in the returning general’s ear of the elusiveness of glory.

     It was an emotional movie. It’s hard not to root for Patton, even when he’s being difficult, which probably owes as much to George C. Scott’s portrayal as it does to the character of Patton. This is an amazing film all should see, showing multiple facets of World War II through the lens of one general.

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