Friday, January 27, 2017

Patton - Movie Review

The film was made in 1970. It is a biopic of US General George Patton (1885-1945), a tough combat man, with clear ideas about combat, a foul mouth, a brave heart and an undiplomatic soul. Consequently the soldier, who hails from a family that served in several wars, loses out a bit in the numbers race but on achievements and respect earned, few match George Patton. Story and screenplay are by Francis Ford Coppola and George C. Scott turns in an Oscar winning performance as Patton which he did not accept.

The movie starts with an iconic scene. Patton walks on stage behind which is a huge US flag and delivers an address to his army, the Third Army before D Day in World War II. It's a scene worth watching. "You don't win wars by dying for your country," he says, "you win by making the enemy soldiers die for their country". It's a superb speech, filled with foul, uncompromising and tough language. Patton leads his highly disciplined army swiftly across France to deliver a critical blow to Germany in the Battle of Bulge. That pretty much puts the German resistance to an end. Patton's understanding of history (he frequently refers to historical wars and believes he fought those battles too), his uncanny judgment, clear strategy and tactics, an incurable need to battle and to go forward in attack, (we are not holding our position ever, attack), a disdain for soldiers who give up and suffer from battle fatigue, and much more - makes him a much liked and much hated person. He is much respected by his opponents the Germans who finally succumb to their nemesis. Patton was also involved in design of armored vehicles, a sabre and other such military equipment. Enough said - he was an old soldier's soul.

The movie brings to life the spirit of Patton who seems born to battle, to live and die like a soldier, and covers his life from his time spent in Morocco, to being called upon to discipline a ragged US unit that was beaten badly by Rommel's German army, his rampage across Sicily where he beats UK General Montgomery to reach Messina first and then finally reaching the pinnacle of his glory as commander of the Third Army in the decisive Battle of the Bulge.

One of my favorite leadership quotes comes from him - 'Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."

George Scott is brilliant as Patton. What was equally interesting is the fact that he refused to accept the Oscar on principle - that all art is equal and one cannot be compared to another. Heroes everywhere. But that's one iconic movie struck off the list. I wonder, the 1970s seem to be a great period for creative work - in films specially, both Hollywood and Hindi cinema.

No comments: