The English Patient
During the final moments of World War II, in a deserted Italian villa, four people come together: a young nurse, her will broken, all her energy focused on her last, dying patient, a man in whom she has seen something “she wanted to learn, to grow into and hide in”… the patient: an unknown Englishman, survivor of a plane crash, his mind awash with a life’s worth of secrets and passions … a thief whose “skills” have made him one of the war’s heroes, and one of its casualties … an Indian soldier in the British army, an expert at bomb disposal whose three years at war have taught him that “the only thing safe is himself.” Slowly, they begin to reveal themselves to each other, the stories of their pasts and of the present unfolding in scene after haunting scene, taking us into the Sahara, the English countryside, down the streets of London during the Blitz, into the makeshift army hospitals of Italy, and through the battered gardens and rooms of the villa. And with these stories, Ondaatje weaves a complex tapestry of image and emotion, recollection and observation: the paths and details of four diverse lives caught and changed and now inextricably connected by the brutal, improbable circumstances of war.
Haunting and harrowing, as beautiful as it is disturbing, The English Patient tells the story of the entanglement of four damaged lives in an Italian monastery as World War II ends. The exhausted nurse, Hana; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burn victim who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning. In lyrical prose informed by a poetic consciousness, Michael Ondaatje weaves these characters together, pulls them tight, then unravels the threads with unsettling acumen.
A book that binds readers of great literature, The English Patient garnered the Booker Prize for author Ondaatje. The poet and novelist has also written In the Skin of a Lion, Coming Through Slaughter and The Collected Works of Billy the Kid; two collections of poems, The Cinnamon Peeler and There’s a Trick with a Knife I’m Learning to Do; and a memoir, Running in the Family.
Anthony Minghella’s Oscar-winning realization of Michael Ondaatje’s intricate romance deservedly earned comparisons to David Lean’s sweeping screen epics derived from strong literary sources. Like Lean, Minghella sought an equally thoughtful, yet ravishing musical counterpart that fleshes out a sympathetic orchestral score with allusions to the story’s cultural milieu. The equation begins with Gabriel Yared’s tender, brooding symphonic score, which mingles the film’s poles of fate and passion with subtlety and restraint, then adds the exotic, mesmerizing voice of…
Winner of nine Academy Awards and almost every critic’s heart, The English Patient (based on Michael Ondaatje’s prizewinning novel of love and loss during World War II) is one of the most acclaimed films of modern times. Hana, a nurse (Juliette Binoche), tends to an archaeologist (Ralph Fiennes) who has been burnt to a crisp in a plane crash. As their relationship intensifies, he flashes back to his overwhelming passion for a married woman (Kristin Scott Thomas). Meanwhile, Hana begins a new romance with a man who defuses bombs (Naveen Andrews) and Willem…