Film: The English Patient

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Film:

The English Patient

Director: Anthony Minghella
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Genres:
Distributor: Walt Disney Video

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…

Reviews

Amazon.com

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 Dafoe almost steals the show as the thumbless thief Caravaggio. The intricately layered flashback narrative, sounding the depths of the lovers’ hearts, improves with repeated viewings. —Geoff Riley

Barnes and Noble

Adapted from Michael Ondaatje’s novel by writer-director Anthony Minghella, The English Patient unspools the story of Laszlo Almasy (Ralph Fiennes), a Hungarian mapmaker recovering, in an abandoned monastery in Italy, from a near-fatal plane crash. Because he is barely able to speak, his nurse and caretaker, Hana (Juliette Binoche), reassembles his life story from his random writings and what remains of his rapidly deteriorating memory. This unusual narrative assured that The English Patient would be a most unconventional World War II film, one without many of the customary foot soldiers or storm troopers. The book evokes the trackless dunes of the Sahara Desert and the elegantly rustic retreats of North Africa, escaping into the locales of Almasy’s memories. And in a brilliant achievement of cinematic art, Minghella manages to distill the book’s passion and pour it forth in a fluid narrative. Almasy’s mysterious past and, most compellingly, his passionate love affair with a married Englishwoman (Kristin Scott Thomas), drive the film’s action—while the hopeful subplot of Hana’s love affair with a handsome Sikh anchors the film in the nurse’s reality. Breathtakingly romantic, The English Patient earned nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Cinematography, and Best Score. Bruce Kluger

Related Works

Album:The English Patient: Original Soundtrack

The English Patient: Original Soundtrack

Gabriel Yared

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…

Book:The English Patient

The English Patient

Michael Ondaatje

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.

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