Patton

Written By Francis Coppola

Directed by Franklin J. Shaffner

1970


Production:

Theatrical: Campanile Productions & 20th Century Fox

Video: 20th Century Fox Pictures Home Entertainment


Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.20:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC MPEG-4

Disc Size: 39.49 GB

Feature Size: 38.29 GB

Bit Rate: 22.95 Mbps

Runtime: 172 minutes

Chapters: 37

Region: A


Audio:

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

English Dolby Digital 5.0

French Dolby Digital 2.0

Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0

English Dolby Digital 2.0


Subtitles:

English, French, Chinese & Spanish


Extras

• Disc 1: Introduction by Screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola

• Disc 1: Audio Commentary by Francis Ford Coppola

• Disc 2: Behind-the-Scenes Still Gallery with Audio Essay on the Historical Patton

• Production Still Gallery Accompanied by Jerry Goldsmith's Complete Musical Score

• Original Theatrical Trailer

• Documentaries:

• History Through the Lens: Patton – A Rebel Revisited

• Patton's Ghost Corps

• The Making of Patton


Amaray Blu-ray case: 1 disc

Release Date: June 3, 2008

The Fox Blu-ray War Bash 2008

"The perfect gift for Dad this Father's Day"  - so says Fox for their long-awaited series of five – count them – big budget war films from their vast catalog: Battle of Britain (1969), A Bridge Too Far (1977), The Longest Day (1962), Patton (1970), and The Sand Pebbles (1966).  Except for The Sand Pebbles, these are all WWII films.  Three of them show off a huge cast of luminaries, but only one (A Bridge Too Far) does it without undue posturing.  All of them have outstanding photography: even the least successful as a script (Battle of Britain) has some terrific aerial photography. 


Between the five, they scored nine Academy Awards, which is less impressive when you consider that seven of them were for one picture alone (Patton).  A Bridge Too Far, which had zero nominations, has become, for me, one of the more rewatchable WWII movies, and has one of the most engaging film scores composed for the genre.  Jerry Goldsmith's score for Patton was rightfully nominated, but lost to – are you sitting down for this – Love Story!


     


The Longest Day is remarkable for two reasons: it is the first film shot in Black & White to be released on Blu-ray! and it is the oldest film and best looking image – all the more surprising considering how bloody awful the SD 2-disc Collector's Edition was.  (The previous letterboxed image was sharper, even after zoomed out to full size.)  The sound tracks for all of these movies are very good-to-excellent.  They may not have the same level of crunch we have come to expect since Saving Private Ryan, but they are convincing all the same, regardless of age.  The music tracks for these films are especially clear, invigorating and supportive of the mood.


All of the titles have seen SD-DVD incarnations previously, some very good ones, some with extensive supplements.  My comparison of the supplements from the latest SD editions and the respective Blu-ray reveals that all of the extra features – with the exception of A Bridge Too Far - are ported over to High Def.  Except for the occasional trailer, there are NO high-def extra features to be found on any of these new releases.  Two of them (A Bridge Too Far and Battle of Britain) have no extra features at all, unless you count trailers (which I don't.)  The Battle of Britain SD edition, by the way, is the sole movie of this quintet not too have received the 2-disc treatment in 480i. The BRDs of Patton and The Longest Day are 2-disc affairs, but Fox opted for a single 50 GB disc to accommodate all but  "Road Show" version of the 2-disc material from their most recent SD of The Sand Pebbles.


     


The Score Card


The Movie : 9

An under-30 Francis Ford Coppola meant to satisfy both hawks and doves in his Oscar winning screenplay.  I came upon this factoid in his Introduction to the movie included in this Blu-ray, but I thought just that when I first saw the film in 1970.  When I learned sometime later that it was Nixon's favorite movie, I thought: Q.E.D.!


There is so much already written about this film – Roger Ebert's fine review among others.  Also, Gary Tooze has already covered the basics in his review of the DVD and the extra features at DVDBeaver.com here, so I shall content myself generally with comments about the image and sound.


     


Image : 6/8

Comparison to Fox's recent SD Cinema Classics Collection edition is what this is all about, so let's take a closer look.  We can see some edge enhancement on the SD – not much, but some.  I found none on the Blu-ray.  Proper edge definition is essential if we are to tolerate, no less enjoy, a film on large screen projection for three hours.  There is an orange cast to the SD, which is also more saturated.  The BRD is a more open picture: less saturated – and since it has very little color cast, it is more available to more color variation scene-to-scene, and within the frame.  Differences in cropping are insignificant. 


Fox's Cinema Classics DVD is remarkable for the degree of noise reduction applied – so much so that it obliterates what texture the previous DVD offered.  We can see why the decision was made to use DNR – the grain was bordering on noise.  The earlier DVD also appears oversharpened to my eye.  The Blu-ray, on the other hand, steers a middle course in which DNR is applied more selectively.  A wisp of texture is still obtained in jackets (check out Malden's jacket in his close-up), but I find that there is too much smoothing all around, and Scott's face can get seriously waxy in several of the shots.  Even so, there are benefits in resolution and dimensionality that we come to expect from high definition.


     


Audio & Music : 7/9

I finally have what should be a pretty decent, though not entirely finalized, surround system in place.  It has not yet been professionally calibrated.  That may be a few weeks off, so regard my comments with this in mind – and if there is the need for qualification, I shall post in the Update section.  In any case, I feel I am much closer to the intentions of the audio mix than ever before.


My new surround system captures the subtlety of Jerry Goldsmith's unusually eerie score and the growlings of George C. Scott's alter-George but, compared to what's possible today, artillery, machine gun fire and bomb blasts are not nearly as convincing as what is possible today.  Still, an improvement over the SD.


     


Operations : 6

Since we have Sir Francis holding forth in informative tones on the commentary, I don't see any need for us to have to deal with him in the unavoidable, but skippable, Introduction.  Whether you approach the feature film by hitting Play on the Main Menu or from Scenes, you gonna have to deal with Francis – and in a pitiful 480i image, to boot.


     


Extras : 7

One comment on the Production Still Gallery Accompanied by Jerry Goldsmith's Complete Musical Score: I was expecting either a longer score (It's only a little over half an hour) or a faster paced slide show.  I got neither.  Better heard and not seen, at least not at the same time.  Since I seem to be on a tear about Mr. Coppola's Introduction, I might as well add that anything that is an embedded unavoidable feature of the movie shouldn't be listed as an Extra Feature.


     


Recommendation : 8

Any fan of this movie will want to have the best looking image.  Frankly, I didn't expect all that much, especially after the level of artificial smoothing observed in the Cinema Classics edition.  But Blu-ray scores decently in this despite the injudicious use of DNR, especially in that we aren't likely to see a new video release of this movie anytime soon.


Leonard Norwitz

LensViews

May 25, 2008

Rev. April 18, 2010


     







          
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