Patton (1970) A Great Actor in an Excellent Biopic

Patton is a fascinating, surprising movie and totally not what I had expected. Especially not after the first ten minutes in which we see George C. Scott perform the so-called Blood and Guts Speech. Quite off-putting, to be honest. As much as I like transparent and open communication, this wasn’t promising. What I sensed at the beginning is exactly what the movie has been reproached of doing, namely not taking an anti-war position. 1970 was not exactly a time in which people were in favour of a movie that seems to glorify warriors. Well, that is not what it’s a l about as I discovered when I watched the rest. No, this is an excellent biopic with an absolutely amazing main actor. A portrait of a character with numerous dazzling facets.

The movie follows Patton’s WWII years, starting in Africa, continuing in Europe, until the moment when he comes to rescue the by now famous 101st Airborne at Bastogne.

Patton is mentioned in many a war movie but we do not see him so often. We know that there was a lot of competition between him and the British General Montgomery and ultimately also between him and Feldmarschall Rommel. Rommel seemed to have had a lot of respect regarding Patton’s skills, whereas Montgomery was too full of himself to register anyone else (what a peacock).

Patton is an epic character, a larger than life figure but what puzzled me most is his belief in reincarnation. This isn’t what I had expected and it was the element of the movie that fascinated me the most. He was convinced to be the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, he even remembered some battle fields from former lives. On the other hand he was a believing Christian. Truly a man of many contradictions or rather complex aspects. He wrote poetry but despised cowardice which led to an unlucky event – the unfair slapping of a shell-shocked soldier – that cost him his position.

Precisely this event surprised me even more than his belief in reincarnation. I’m not saying people should be slapped, no matter what for, but that this led to his removal from command seems very surprising, humiliating and also unfair. I rather assume that Washington didn’t approve of his being to outspoken. Plus he was absolutely not Russian friendly and didn’t make a secret of it.

All in all I think this is truly one of the most spellbinding biopics or character studies I have ever seen. Such a fascinating personality and what a splendid actor. 5/5

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