Sunday, 15 May 2011

Best Actor 1970: George C. Scott in Patton

George C. Scott won his Oscar from his third nomination for portraying George S. Patton in Patton.

Patton of course tells the story of General George S. Patton's victories, and problems during the second World War.

George C. Scott's performance is quite the legendary performance in this film, not only because of the quality of the performance, but also the effect the performance had on public perception. George C. Scott's portrayal of Patton has many times been almost juxtaposed over how the real Patton was frankly, so much so that many times when one mentions Patton it is the George C. Scott's portrayal of Patton that is thought of, not the actual Patton, it is simply a fascinating side effect of this performance.

There really is no question really why Scott's portrayal has had such an influence, from the very first moment of the film in the iconic American flag scene Scott instantly dominates the part. There simply is never one question in who Scott is in this film, he just is Patton, not for a moment do I feel that there is any apparent acting going in the part, Scott simply becomes the part.

Scott commands every moment with his awesome presence in this film. Patton was a larger than life figure, and Scott made him so just the same. He holds command over every moment, he just is fascinating to watch, because he simply pulls one in with the power for his performance.  The most fascinating part is how easy Scott makes this command of Patton look, and that is why his performance is so incredibly effective.

What is amazing about Scott though is the way he combines the various of facets of Patton in such a compelling fashion. He is of course commanding in the part, but he does not ever treat Patton in a way of only the General, but always shows there is more to him than a single aspect of the man. He infuses a multitude of emotions and layers into Patton that never comprises another aspect of Patton, nor the overall towering strength of the performance.

Scott certainly is good as the commanding Patton, and quite entertaining as well, without ever making him anywhere near a parody, instead showing that Patton simply was entertaining. It is interesting to see when he is not as commanding as well, and when he faces disappointment or defeat in some way. Scott brilliantly uses these moments to add layers to Patton.

Scott shows that Patton does certianly feel personal defeats deeply inside himself, in scene which are almost completely silent in reaction. He particularly strong when he hears that he has been overlooked for a commanding position, and instead it has been given to his former second in command Omar Bradley (Karl Malden) instead. Scott reaction is subtle, but extremely effective showing that Patton can still be hurt despite his tough exterior. 

Scott also insures that although Patton is a soldier, he shows more deeply into Patton's sense of a soldier. He does not show him as just a man who gives orders, or takes them, but Scott instead shows a deep philosophy behind Patton's view of being a soldier is something profound for him. Scott believes in a pride, and a strong will of a soldier, and his view of the shell shocked soldier is shown by Scott as almost just something he could not understand as a soldier, a soldier not willing to fight for anything from cowardice Scott shows is something simply against Patton's point of view.

Patton though has a deep respect for a wounded, or killed soldier, and it interesting to see the tenderness which Scott brings in his scenes of respect for his soldiers. Scott shows that Patton really does have a heart for his soldiers, and that there is nothing more to him than a true soldier in his view. Scott again never forces this aspect of Patton, but it comes as naturally as his scenes of command.

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of the part though might be the presentation of Patton's belief that he was a reincarnated several times as several groups of soldiers. Scott again never makes this seem unnatural which is frankly amazing. Scott once more presents this as part of the whole person who was Patton, as most certianly his belief, a belief he believed in strongly, even if it would seem it would conflict with the rest of the man such as his deep Christian beliefs, Scott though is able to make this contradiction entirely believable though.

George C. Scott performance as Patton is simply an outstanding performance. He takes a large than life figure, and fully realizes that figure. He never seems to be acting, in a performance that could have been filled with that, he never makes him a simple character, but a complex, complicated man. This is just simply one of the best winners in this category, and one of the performances period.


Anonymous said...

Well, I think I can guess who'll win this.

joe burns said...

I'm guessing it'll go to him, but Jack is still a big threat. I think it'll be Scott by a nose.

Excellent review, but I just want to say that I really like your writing, but I feel it lacks emotion and I know you said you're heartless (I remember you were commenting on Dinasztie's review of Gabourey Sidibe in Precious), but maybe that's something you could work on?

dinasztie said...

Brilliant performance. But I disagree with Joe. I don't think that it's a big problem that you don't get too carried away.

Anonymous said...

Amazing in-depth review of a perfect performance! He really deserved his Oscar, he was wonderful, he completely became his character and he added multiple layers to a character that could have easily been one dimensional. Brilliant!