An Interview with Robert Orlando, director of the film Silence Patton and author of The Tragedy of Patton
November 11, the anniversary of the end of World War I, is also the birthday of the most recognized U.S. warrior, Gen. George S. Patton Jr. That’s probably not a coincidence.
We got to talk with Robert Orlando, director of the film Silence Patton and author of the book The Tragedy of Patton. He has a new Patton book in the works.
Author and film director Robert Orlando, who studied the great general in the film “Silence Patton: First Victim of the Cold War,’’ returns with a new book, his most enjoyable work: The Tragedy of Patton: A Soldier’s Date With Destiny. He is also the director of The Divine Plan film and author of the book.
What first drew you to George Patton, and what keeps bringing you back to him? You’re working on your second Patton book.
Patton was an icon of America Patriotism who then became an Avatar for dying American ideals. As our memories fade along with the attacks on our legacy, we might lose Patton to our “Amerinisia.” My second book, Patton: Operation Breakout, is a handbook that details Patton’s strategies and actual tactics used in battle and for everyday life.
The book is Patton’s strategy, one we can apply to our careers and lives. It will be out on D-Day, June 6, 2023.
Why is George Patton still much more recognizable than other generals or military people? First, he is probably better known than any military leader of today or even the last few wars. His peers (Generals MacArthur, Bradley, Eisenhower, Marshall) are less recognizable today than he is.
He was a bold character — the type that draws attention through his words, battlefield antics, or foul mouth. He is an enigma in that he is as much a renaissance man as a brute. He could choose a fine wine in French but curses for 90 seconds nonstop.
Above that, Patton knew how to win swiftly and decisively on the battlefield. He was called upon when the Army needed a Breakout, such as the beachheads in Normandy, the blizzard of the Battle of the Bulge, or resistance into Germany.
Is that all because the 1970 Patton film is still so widely respected and watched? Do we hear Patton and “think” of George C. Scott?
That perspective of Patton in the film is all but dead due to pure demography, but it still packs a punch. His character would be a hard sell to our modern audience, but it does need an update. I am writing something now I hope to turn into a film. Stay tuned.
You’re a filmmaker: Do the great movie renditions of the real-life characters they represent mean that the message/media/narrative overpowers reality?
A great question that dates back to the Greeks. How much of the stories we tell are the man vs. the Myth, and what parts are genuine?
Usually, a distinctive character and specific individual actions become the Myth. Think of superheroes that come from myths. One has speed; one is brilliant, one has force, one is loyal, etc. The Myth is the embodiment of their most excellent characteristics, known universally.
After all your work, how different would you say the Real Patton was from the one we know from the 1970 film? Would Patton like it? What do you think Patton would say about the world of today?
Under my writing and direction, I would have presented more complexly in the Patton figure with inner conflict and a darker side that he would need to transcend to become the man he was.
He would’ve been a man who struggled most of his life but could break out at times and have extraordinary acts of Valor and Courage. In other words, he could show why he was the stuff of legend.
If he were speaking to our country on this Veteran’s Day, he would probably kick us in the ass and say, with many expletives:
“If we don’t get our shit together, we are going to get our asses kicked by China, if not those other Commy bastards. Well, gentlemen, walk softly but if you travel, make sure it’s in an F-22 Global Strike Task Force.”
Thank you, Robert. Happy Veterans Day.