Sunday, August 15, 2010
Francis Ford Coppola gives us a great introduction to Patton, a film that won him an Oscar for best adapted screenplay. He makes some interesting points about General Patton, how the liberals found him to be "right-winged hawk" and how the conservatives loved him and thought he was a hero. Coppola wanted to bring out both of these viewpoints in the film, and that's one of the reasons it works so well. Coppola takes a completely unbiased approach and simply shows the multiple dimensions of Patton's persona instead of making a strong point. Like Patton himself, Coppola took a lot of risks on this job and almost got fired. He did the same thing when he was directing The Godfather, and he was about to be taken off that movie when he found out he won the Academy Award for writing Patton. This enabled him to continue on with The Godfather and then go on to make countless other great movies. I'm not really sure what's more important: that Patton essentially gave us The Godfather films, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, and Dracula, or that the film itself is just about perfect. I guess that's not really a fair question. The great thing of course about Patton is the performance from George C. Scott, who, in the opinion of James Berardinelli, gives the best male screen performance of all time. Though I wouldn't quite agree with that, Scott is still undeniably great here. This is an important movie largely for two reasons: first of all, it shows Patton's influence on America's success in World War II, and because it really focuses on this fascinating figure in U.S. history, a prima donna who believed in reincarnation, hard discipline, and most of all had a passion for leading men in war. If he could not live as a general, he could not live at all.