Wednesday, May 04, 2005


I also rented and watched Patton the other day, and I must say that this film shows its age, and is not an enduring classic, despite how important it may have been at the time.

They spend an inordinate amount of time on marching bands, for one thing. A movie has a tale to tell, and limited time in which to do it. If I were making a film, seconds would be precious. This whole film moves at a slower pace, from a time when television commercials lasted a full minute.

The battle scenes, except for the one in North Africa, are often gratuitous and seemingly unconnected to the story. They seem like merely a collection of special effects. The effects might have been fantastic for 1970, but now they seem cheesy. It's embarrassing to watch a bunch of guys leap up into the air to die right before the shell explodes.

Considering the slow pace, and the often pointless special effects, not very much story gets told. Another flaw of this movie is that it focuses on one man, and makes the ordinary combat soldiers seem like Hollywood extras.

Saving Private Ryan took us to the ordinary soldier, and tried to show that they were real people. Particularly when watching Tom Hanks, he conveyed that he was just a civilian, like you and me, who had been thrust into extraordinary circumstances. He seemed to find war extreme and bizarre, no matter how effective he might be as a soldier.

Another thing that seemed to be more "true" in Ryan was the way the men coped with the fact that so many of them were falling, like leaves from a tree. They didn't treat it as unimportant, but they treated it as routine. When so many people are dying, all around, and when you might be next, and when there is still a job to be done, which entails risking your own life again and again, then a casual response to death seems essential.

Patton, unfortunately, gets sappy over the death of a chosen actor, and does linger affectionately on some corpses, but seems cartoonish in accepting the droves of guys being blown up in the special effects.

Ryan, I think, is a classic. Patton is going to become harder and harder to watch.

Then again, a war movie can be contemporary, and still have cheesy special effects, and still fail to capture the drama of the individual soldier, as cartoonish actors jump around from one fake bush to another, waving submachine guns like hoses, deftly mowing down dozens of enemy soldiers who, conveniently, jump up, shout a war cry, and then consider using their weapon, as in the feeble "Windtalkers" with Nicolas Cage. To do a movie about the invasion of Saipan, and completely leave out the civilian mass suicides, indicates that the people who made this movie just wanted to do an action flick, and oh by the way, set it in WWII. If they'd made a movie about a real hero on Saipan, instead a made-up one, it might have been worth watching

Left grip is 42 pounds (37, 42, 36), right grip is 94 pounds (94, 94, 93), left leg balance is 14.2 seconds, and inhale volume is 4750 mL.

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