Quiet lately

I know that things have been slow lately on this blog. This is largely because I have been preoccupied with doing a post a day over at my other blog.

However, that is all just about wrapped up, so expect normal service to resume shortly. I have a few book reviews and some oddities already on the way

Thanks for your patience.

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Quiet lately

Cartoon Corner: Spider-Woman (1979)

I have written in the past about superheroes and archaeology, largely inspired by the papers given at the Monstrous Antiquities conference back in November. Today, I just want to point out that there is a surprising amount of archaeology in the 1979 Spider-Woman cartoon … or, well … sort of. 

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Spider-Woman cartoon, but it seems to have been largely an attempt to cash in on the popularity of Wonder Woman, right down to the spinning transformation, here called a “spider-spin.” And yeah, you know you’re back in the olden days when Marvel is trying to cash in on a DC property. 

Anyway, the cartoon basically resembles what you’d get if you got one of the less grounded Bronze Age creators (poor old Bill Mantlo, perhaps, or maybe Bob Kanigher (I may mean Bob Haney)) and just fed them an absolute shitload of cough syrup and told them to have at it, oh, and to try to work in something educational to satisfy the FCC. Maybe the easiest way for you to see what I mean about this show’s bizarre mix of earnestness and foolery is just to watch an episode. 

Our very first episode is “Pyramids of Terror,” and it kicks off with Spider-Man being in Egypt (for some reason) where he is captured by a villainous mummy. Spider-Woman, her bumbling sidekick and her plucky sidekick go off to Egypt following a series of mummy attacks, and then … erm … 

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It turns out, right, that these mummies came from space in their pyramid ships and were buried under the sands of Egypt lo these many years ago, and I guess they inspired ancient Egyptian culture, because why not? The classic motif of the Sphinx shooting beams out of its eyes is gone one better here — not only does it have eyebeams, but if the beams hit you, they turn you into a mummy!

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Eventually, Spider-Woman realises that the motive force behind the alien spaceships is, no fooling, Pyramid Power and uses her webbing to turn the lead ship into a cube. 

ohno

It’s like a checklist of pop culture Egypt: 

  • ambulatory mummy
  • did ancient astronauts …?
  • Pyramid Powah!

So this is all well and good, but what’s weird is that it keeps happening. Spider-Woman is a very globe-trotting sort of heroine, and she winds up in contact with a lot of past-type stuff. 

She goes back to the 10th century to fight some Vikings: 

crackling

Fights some Amazons in a vaguely Mexico-ish sort of Amazon temple thing:

Seriously, I think the statue:eyebeams ratio is about 1:1.
Seriously, I think the statue:eyebeams ratio is about 1:1.

And there’s a few more temples and castles as well. Apparently it all gets a bit more UFO-y in the later seasons, but I’m not there yet. I really just wanted to share that mummy episode with people because, you know, pink pyramid spaceship with sphinx-shaped mummy-ray turret. 

Cartoon Corner: Spider-Woman (1979)

Movie Monday: Cromwell (1970)

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A quiet, cloudy afternoon, laundry to hang up and lots of tidying to do — it must be time for nearly two and a half hours of pageantry and stodge in the form of this 1970 biopic about Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England (and his warts).

Cromwell is an interesting figure — he is widely perceived as being someone who helped set England on the path toward democracy, which may be true even though he himself was a military dictator. I’ve noted that the films I review here tend to fall into a few broadly-defined categories:

  • Sensational adventures with a tenuous relation to history.
  • Gritty, mud-caked deconstructions of well-known historical tales.
  • Patriotic glurge.
  • Sumptuous historical pageants, sometimes full of patriotic glurge and sometimes empty spectacle.

I think this probably falls into the latter category, with the added bonus that there is going to be some ECKTing up in this bitch, because Cromwell is Richard Harris and Alec Guinness is Charles I. As an added bonus, Rupert of the Rhine is Timothy Dalton, although he doesn’t have a whole lot to do.

What surprised me was the comparatively limited amount of time that this film spent on the Civil War itself, or at least on battles and galloping around on horses and what have you. The only battles it depicts are Edgehill and Naseby, and it treats Naseby as if it were the end of the military phase of the war, which would have been news to the combatants. I suppose this is the usual compression that you get in in historical films; it also treats Cromwell as much more important in the early stage of the war than he was, even going so far as to make him commander of all Parliamentarian forces in the middle of the war, which would have been news to Thomas Fairfax.

Again, oversimplification, overplaying the role of the hero. Nothing too out of the ordinary there. It also ups the drama on some situations, like having Cromwell’s son (also called Oliver) killed in battle, and having Cromwell and Charles meet much more often than they did in reality so that they can ECKT at each other. That’s where the extra time not spent on battles, went, by the way: impassioned Richard Harris monologues. Approximately one hundred of them.

Alec Guinness is pretty fabulous as Charles, especially in the early part of the film where he’s still in sassy-bitch mode:

fabulous

The thing that really weirded me out throughout the film was the emphasis on democracy — en elected Parliament, Parliament answerable to the people, bigger wigs for the common he, all that sort of thing — which I don’t think was really part of Cromwell’s agenda, was it? And there are a few little shenanigans to make this seem more likely, like making it seem like Cromwell became Lord Protector as a means of resolving Parliament when in fact the Rump Parliament was several years after he took power. In keeping with the general idea of making Cromwell nicer, there’s almost no mention of Cromwell in Ireland (although whether Cromwell was any worse than the common run of 17th-century generals, who tended heavily in the direction of bloodthirsty, is another question).

And I think this goes to the ambivalence of the film’s — and perhaps the nation’s? — attitude toward Cromwell. Interestingly, Charles comes off as a much more sympathetic figure as a result; he isn’t full of the kind of tortured contradictions that you get in Cromwell. Guinness plays him as an intelligent, humane person who is just in the grip of forces far beyond his control and doesn’t realise it until it’s much too late.

Anyway, as a history lesson Cromwell is pretty flawed. As a film, it has maybe five or six too many impassioned monologues to really hold the attention all the way, but it does have some great performances, pageantry, spectacle, all that kind of thing. As the kind of thing you can get for a fiver, I think it’s not bad. Certainly images moved in front of me and I was entertained. But not informed, particularly. 

Movie Monday: Cromwell (1970)

Book review: Evo Moment 37 by Glenn Cravens

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I have written previously about my recent infatuation with fighting games. As I said last time, this is a little curious considering that I have never really been that into them. When I was 14, I played the odd round of Street Fighter II like everyone else, and when I was at university I played some Soul Edge (it hadn’t yet been released in English as Soul Blade) with my friend Timothy, who had that unheard-of thing, a PlayStation. I just remembered the other day that the common room at my college also had Virtua Fighter 3, or possibly 2, as well as a Marvel game, possibly Marvel Super Heroes. I dropped quite a lot of cash into them, but I was never really great at them, and they couldn’t compete with the other arcade cabinets they had, which I seem to recall were Puzzle Bobble and Metal SlugMetal Slug is pretty damn great, let’s not lie.

So I didn’t really become interested in the genre until a year or two ago that I read an article by Ben Kuchera on the old Penny Arcade Report, in which he linked to this video:

Now, if you know anything about fighting games, you know what this video is without even having to click on it: it’s the famous “Daigo Parry,” in which Daigo Umehara, one of the world’s most successful Street Fighter players, pulls out a seemingly-impossible victory against American player Justin Wong. This clip is so famous partly because you need so little context to understand it. For the uninitiated: Daigo is playing Ken, the guy in the white, and Justin is playing Chun-Li, the woman in blue. Justin has reduced Daigo to a tiny fraction of his health; if he takes a single hit, he loses. Justin then launches a “super art” — a special attack that, even if blocked, will do a tiny amount of damage. Normally, this minor damage, called “chip damage,” isn’t much to worry about, but it’ll be enough to take care of Daigo.

The only way to avoid chip damage is to parry the attack — to push forward on the stick at the exact moment the attack connects. Parrying is very unforgiving; if the player’s timing isn’t right, the attack will hit, so it’s a gamble. Block and you’ll take a wee bit of damage; fail a parry and you’ll take much more. Of course, it makes no difference to Daigo here; he can’t afford to do either. But not only does Daigo have to parry the first attack, he then has to parry fourteen more, each at the exact moment it hits. To do this, he has to know what his opponent is doing at the same time his opponent does — or even before. It’s a tremendously powerful and simple demonstration of one of the core elements of fighting games; anticipating what your opponent is going to do and reacting accordingly. 

And now there’s a book about it: Evo Moment 37 by Salinas, CA-based sportswriter and video game enthusiast Glenn Cravens. You can get it in paperback here or on Kindle here.

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Now, I’ve talked previously about historical themes in videogames: for instance, in Skyrim or in FarCry 3. But I don’t think I’ve talked much about the history of video games. And this is especially interesting, I think, when it comes to fighting games. Despite the fact that they’re a very early form of competitive gaming, fighting games have never really taken off in the way that some other types of game have. Their community remains small and their corporate backing pretty minor. And as a culture, the fighting game community (FGC for short) seems to be divided about whether it wants to be “esports,” or whether this will get rid of the underground, grassroots feeling that is such an important part of it.

So there isn’t a lot of historical material out there about this community, or at least not material that’s easy for a newcomer to access. The history of the community gets handed down as folklore (although check out this fantastic oral history of the development of Street Fighter II). But now we have Cravens looking at the context of this famous event. What can looking at the Daigo Parry teach us about the FGC, its history, and why people play fighting games?

Craven’s structure is basically a narrative: he starts with the story of downloading the video himself (back in the days before YouTube) and relates it to the stories of other people encountering it. From there, he moves into the background — the generally poor reception of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike in the US, the growth of the tournament scene, and the early career of Justin Wong. He evokes the arcade scene as it existed in the early 2000s and talks about the logistical, behind-the-scenes challenges facing tournament organisers.

Gradually, we move through a series of other tournaments (including the butchery that was the 2003 USA vs Japan 5 v 5 match) and incidents to EVO 2004, with an interesting aside on where the “Evolution” name came from and the format changes that went with it, which at the time many people probably thought would eclipse the events of the tournament itself. We get the expected breakdown of the tournament, its brackets and results, and then, perhaps most interestingly, the aftermath of the event, including the viral spread of the video, which has been viewed, according to one estimate, around 30 million times.

There’s some analysis, but in the end this is a largely narrative story — a tale with a beginning, middle and end in which the parry itself is a climax, but not the climax.

What’s good about it?

I found myself turning the pages of Evo Moment 37 pretty rapidly — which is a bit of a feat considering that I, like anyone who might be motivated to pick up this book, already know how the story ended since it happened 10 years ago. It’s a slender work (it feels like it could have been a magazine article or series of blog posts, but got beefed up with extra material) but I felt like it covered the whole period and did a good job explaining the significance of the parry and the accompanying parry video.

It was an interesting evocation of the fighting game community — and perhaps of gamer culture in general — at a certain place and time. I found it fascinating the number of people who feature prominently in the text who are still leading members of the FGC today: the same three guys run EVO, for instance, and if you watched the 2014 finals of Ultra Street Fighter IV, you heard the same announcer calling the match that you hear on the 2004 video, Seth Killian (who discusses the parry in this PAR article). 

I thought the discussion of the spread of the video, first through sites devoted only to fighting game fans and then through good old YouTube, was fun. 

Cravens drew on interviews with many of the participants to form his account (although we don’t hear very much from Daigo’s perspective; Umehara doesn’t speak English and is reputedly a hard man to get hold of), and the view into their lives is very cool: the story of Justin Wong hiding his career as a video gamer from his family even as he became more and more well-known sounds bizarre; it’s hard to image it would be possible today, in the full flowering of the internet, but perhaps I’m wrong. 

What could be better?

I think there were three main problems with Evo Moment 37. The first is that this book really needed a good going-over by an editor. Leaving aside frequent errors of tense or word choice, it’s heavily overwritten. For instance, instead of saying “Capcom games” or “games made by Capcom,” Cravens says “games born of the Capcom brand” or words to that effect. It isn’t the ideal word choice, and even if it were, it wouldn’t be the right way to express the idea. Now, Cravens is a journalist, so I know he knows that. It just goes to show that you can’t edit yourself. It reads like a first draft, not in terms of the information it conveys but in terms of how the writing flows. 

Perhaps relatedly, I mostly skimmed the blow-by-blow accounts of each fight. I didn’t find them exciting, and I found Cravens’s attempts to liven up the writing unhelpful. This, I think, is just a fundamental problem in writing about such an inherently visual thing. I’m willing to accept that this is a matter of taste. I did like the way the fights were broken down by the amount of time remaining on the clock, which is a good way of reminding the reader how little time is passing as all these strategies and counter-strategies are taking place. It keeps the tension high, and that’s good. 

Lastly … I don’t know if this is a criticism so much as an observation. I’m not sure who this book is for. For example, at the beginning, Cravens describes the video in detail, explaining who Chun-Li and Ken are as characters, and then later telling us about Third Strike as a game. Which is all well and good — but later on, he mentions things like Urien’s Aegis Reflector attack without explaining them at all. 

I want you to try to envision the hypothetical reader who doesn’t know who Ken and Chun-Li are but does know what the Aegis Reflector is. At least Dudley’s Machine-gun Blow is exactly what it sounds like: a rapid series of punches. So the introduction is based on the idea that you don’t really know much about fighting games, but the blow-by-blows won’t make any sense if you haven’t played Third Strike at least a time or two. 

I suppose, honestly, that the target audience is someone like me — someone who has a basic familiarity with the genre but hasn’t been around long enough to know anything about the community’s history. So I guess that’s fair. 

Overall

Initially, I thought the roughness of the text was going to hurt my enjoyment of the book, but I didn’t find that it did. It could definitely do with some hard-hearted editing (a future second edition, perhaps?) and perhaps a clearer statement of its thesis. Perhaps if you’re a veteran fighting game guy it won’t tell you anything you didn’t already know. I can’t speak to that — for me, the most interesting part of it was the surrounding context. The parry itself is very impressive, but it’s the behind-the-scenes stuff that I found particularly compelling. If you’re interested in the history of video games — or perhaps more accurately, interested in the history of video gaming and gaming communities — I think this is worth a read. 

It occurs to me that I own a lot of this kind of geek history and I should probably write more about it. At another time, perhaps; this has gone on way longer than I intended it to. 

And also … 

A week or two ago, Third Strike went on sale on XBLA for like £2.49, so I grabbed it. It was the first time I’d ever really played a fighting game since my teens, and I (can you guess?) stank at it. Stink at it, I should say, because I’m still practicing and learning a bit, even though I can barely beat the computer. 

The other day, I was plugging away in training mode, and I did something right. Which might not sound like a big deal to you, but believe me, it is to me. I saw where the computer character was, and where I was, and I said to myself “I bet that it’s going to do this … so what if I do this …“. Sure enough, my prediction was right, my counterattack landed and I felt like the greatest strategic mind of the century for the 3 seconds it took for the opponent to get up and start using me for target practice again. 

But I can see why these games are addictive. 

Book review: Evo Moment 37 by Glenn Cravens

Movie Monday: Myn Bala, Warriors of the Steppe (2011)

10667159-1359982077-294726I tend to do films for Movie Monday that are based on history I know a little bit about, but this film is something of an exception. I found it while browsing the Netflix selection for the term “Historical” and had no idea what the hell it was about, so naturally I had to watch it. Apparently it’s based on politics and warfare in 18th-century Kazakhstan, and is one of the genre of sweeping, slightly didactic national epics I’ve come to rely on for my history-movie fix. 

OK, so we start off in 18th century Kazakhstan. The lands of the Kazakh Orda are being invaded by the Dzungarians. The first thing the Dzungars do is shoot a little boy and a sheep, so I don’t think we’re being given a very nuanced portrayal of them, although we’ll see. Armoured horsemen galloping about, people running in slow motion through the rain, and our infant hero’s village all getting murdered up by the invaders. Sartai, our hero, sees his parents get stabbed up, takes up a club and cold knocks a dude out with it, then has to run off with a handful of refugees. We’re like five minutes in and we’re going the full Conan with this movie. Sounds good to me. 

dzungarbastardSeven years later, Sartai, grown to man’s estate, is a hunter, noble and true, learning to ride, do feats of acrobatics, shoot stuff with his bow, wrestle, etc. But he and his family are still in hiding from the bad old Dzungars. Clearly we’re going for a kind of Robin Hood vibe here. Sartai and buddy Taimas are being told stories of the great hero Alpamys. There is a flat-out stated message about how all Kazakhs have to be united to stand up to the invaders. Suuuuubtle. Oh, and some praises of the natural beauty of the homeland: “our steppe is so beautiful!” It does look pretty good in these shots, actually. National historical epics always have kind of creepy fascist leanings but are still fun. 

Uncle Nazar disapproves of the kids galloping around on the steppe where anyone could see them. He takes them to a village, where there are some amazing hats in evidence. The spring festival is going on, and the local wrasslin’ champ is challenging all comers. Sartai is goaded into fighting him and wins the valuable coat which is the prize — but offends the fighter’s dad, the local big cheese. 

Up to this point, if I had said “it is a Kazakh national epic about their victory over the invading Dzungarians, and the hero is a teenager,” you could have written this up to this point already (and picked the soundtrack, too; throat-singing aplenty!) And nothing changes when our heroes fall out with the village folks because they’ve made peace with the Dzungars. Soon Sartai and Taimas are killin’ Dzungars and raisin’ hell. Tomboy Khorlan joins their crusade. Taimas is full of anger; Sartai has some doubts. The Dzungars wear all black. I mean, this movie is not subtle. 

The mixture of sort of Central Asian steppe stuff and kind of pan-Islamic Turkish-influenced costume is cool. Here is the Sultan arriving: 

playa

There are also high levels of horse-thieving, excuse me, raiding, and fools getting knocked the f out with big old clubs.

knockedthefuckout

Our heroes and their ever-increasing band of merry men and women have a run-in with some soldiers led by Borybai, the standard-issue gruff veteran, who takes a liking to them. Simple farmboy whatsisname has simple ambitions: 

awjeahThey go to visit the bigwig they offended before, who has his minion sing them a folk song with an insulting subtext. Sartai and Taimas are pissed off and leave, but kindly scholar Iliyas joins them. Basically, so far we’ve had about half an hour of getting-the-band-together sequence, which is fair enough. I can’t really tell the heroes apart, other than that they’re the Leader, the Angry One, the Average Joe, the Gruff One, the Smart One and the Girl.

There is a meeting of elders, who have great robes and hats.  

councilofawesomeSome advocate war, some peace. You know how it be. There is much talk about unifying behind the Sultan, Abul Kair Mukhamed. The council decides on war; Borybai is among the army. Meanwhile, the rest of our heroes are hanging out in the bazaar, gathering information for an upcoming raid.Some dudes are being taken away as slaves, but Sartai sneaks them a couple of shivs, because the Dzungars are the worst caravan guards ever. 

There is a big raid on the slave caravan, which is pretty badass. Single combat between our hero and Ayur, a Named Villain, then the customary great big fight, dramatic club murderings, slave riot, the whole bit. The landscapes in this film are pretty great. As is traditional, the sadistic overseer gets choked out with a set of slave manacles. Cracks in the Sartai-Taimas alliance are appearing. 

It looks like the Kazakhs write in Arabic script (or similar) and the Dzungars in Chinese. They also seem to be Buddhists? Not sure about that one, but there are some Buddha-looking idols in evidence. There’s a surprisingly sensitive scene between the possibly-Quisling Kazakh bigwig and the main Dzungar leader guy. Bigwig’s beautiful daughter sings a song and gets romanced by Sartai. Sartai’s dudes infiltrate an enemy fort and blow up its store of gunpowder in case you forgot that all this stuff with knights and swords is going on in the 18th century.

The action scenes in this are nicely varied, but I can’t be bothered with this minute-by-minute liveblogging thing. Let’s kick it up a notch. A bunch of other stuff happens. Full of rage and jealousy, Taimas shoots Sartai, who has a near-death experience. Taimas tells everyone the Dzungars got ‘im. Khorlan and Nazar are heartbroken. But in fact Sartai is not dead — in a surprising face turn, Bigwig finds him and there is some pretty gruesome surgery in a yurt by lamplight action (Bigwig being, as we have all figured out except Taimas, not such a bad guy really). 

Zere, the love interest, brings Sartai some milk. Interestingly, she is accompanied everywhere by another girl, presumably for reasons of Islamic propriety? Bigwig clues Sartai in on the impending war and asks him to join the army rather than being a bandit. Sartai demurs. Everything you might expect is happening. There are some cool shots of Bigwig’s village migrating. The upcoming battle is on everyone’s mind. A series of incidents remind us that Shit Just Got Real. Some people die. There are Heroic Sacrifices. In fact, characters die like flies, which I confess I wasn’t expecting. 

The final battle scene is pretty great. We cut between scenes of the carnage and chaos of the battle itself — Our Hero having turned up with his ragtag band of partisans at the critical moment — and shots of the Kazakh elders watching the battle from their vantage point, from which it appears to be nothing but a milling mass of horses and a huge fuckoff cloud of dust. Which, I suspect, is pretty much what a huge cavalry battle looks like from any distance, but not quite what I expected to see in this film. So points there. Every character who has appeared once or twice gets to have a little moment, and there are a few moments where I suspect I would know who these guys are if I were from Kazakhstan. At one point, someone shows up to say that Tomor Batyr is dead, a character I had literally never heard of until that point. 

The guy playing the Dzungar general is working it in this scene; he is amazing. And the actual resolution of the battle is an image I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, which is not something you can often say for the historical battle epic genre. 

So what can I say about Myn Bala? I’ve spoken before about the habit of taking blandly patriotic national epics — Army of Valhalla is another good example, or whatever that one with the bear was — and repackaging them for the post-Kingdom of Heaven crowd. I suppose this is one of those films, but it’s a pretty good example of the genre. In a way, it’s basically what Sign of the Pagan and its ilk would be in their evolved forms — still a glurgefest, but a glurgefest with modern production values and furious action and so on. It is a pretty enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours. 

I confess that there’s something a little creepy about watching this kind of patriotic boosterism in a movie from a state-run film company in a country that’s had the same president for 23 years. See also: the entire Chinese historical epic genre. 

Historical-accuracy-wise, the only sources I could find on the collapse of the Dzungar Khanate paint a complex picture of pressure from outside sources leading to absorption by China rather than a story of plucky, innocent youths rebelling against their brutal overlords, which I’m sure is an oversight. 

Probably no more than 50% of the bad guy cast is super greasy. 

Movie Monday: Myn Bala, Warriors of the Steppe (2011)

Movie Monday: Patton (1970)

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Today, is, of course, the 100th anniversary of Britain’s entry into what was not then known as WWI. I don’t, oddly, have a lot to say about it. I think that commemoration of the First World War in Britain is a thorny subject and an area in which I feel very much like an outsider. I do think it’s interesting that people are so invested in something that happened a century ago — more emotionally invested, perhaps, than in the Second World War, or at least emotionally invested in more difficult ways. 

But like I said, I don’t feel like I have a lot to say about that, so instead I’m gonna talk about Patton, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, written by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund North, and starring George C. Scott and Karl Malden. 

I’m not going to go into the story of the film — it’s the career of Patton in WWII, from North Africa to the end of the war in Europe. It’s correct in broad strokes, though it has some niggling details that did bug me. For instance, Patton says his famous line about personally shooting that paper-hanging son of a bitch while driving implacably into the heart of occupied France here, whereas in reality I believe he said it at a press conference. In the film, Patton loses his temper once and slaps a soldier who has battle fatigue, for which he is cast into outer darkness; in reality, it happened at least twice. 

It’s interesting that the battle fatigue issue comes up in this film; it was a real problem for the US and British armies, who generally had pretty humane responses to the kind of nervous breakdowns that would get you stood up against a wall and shot, or at best just ignored until you got killed, in the Wehrmacht or the Red Army. Although this kind of approach probably saved a lot of lives, viewing the strain of combat as a medical rather than a moral issue was far from universal at the time.

But that’s actually not quite the thing that bugged me about the film. I think the film does show Patton as a series of contradictions — a man who loved the limelight but didn’t know how to handle it, who was foul-mouthed and gruff but educated and cultured. In short, as someone who was putting on a show in almost everything he did, whether spouting poetry at his aides or charming British generals with a lavish dinner or chewing cigars and cussing out malingerers. 

But what interests me is that, as far as I can tell, that’s not what people remember about the movie. What people remember is all the gruff tough-guy one-liners. Which is what Patton wanted people to remember, but not, I think, what Patton wants people to remember, if you see what I mean. Even when the film is about the showman, the show is just so powerful that it persists. 

I am pleased to learn that the reality of Patton’s charisma was as shifty and unknowable as history tends to be. Check out this comparison between Scott’s opening speech and actual footage of a speech given by Patton: 

There are a lot of pieces of conventional wisdom among wargamers and other WWII buffs, and one of them is, of course, that when someone is all talking about how great Patton was, you sort of sniff and say “Bradley.” I wonder how much that owes to Karl Malden in this film, playing the sane, humane counterpoint to the Romantic warrior? It may also be that Bradley’s book was one of the sources for the film, and very popular at the time. 

Anyway, it’s a great film, combining all the splosions and casts of thousands that I usually enjoy in a historical epic with a more interesting and conflicted look at the character. It’s hard to imagine it being made today, somehow. 

Next week I will try to have the film be terrible like usual. 

Movie Monday: Patton (1970)