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The English Patient Movie Review

almasy anthony love minghella

1996 – Anthony Minghella –

The English Patient is a romantic epic that explores love, loss, and healing. Based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje and filmed in Italy and Tunisia, the film pieces together the life of a dying man with no memory of his past. The movie covers a span of eight years of Count Laszlo Almasy's (Ralph Fiennes) life through a series of flashbacks. Director Anthony Minghella's complex use of flashbacks is very well done, with some of them lengthy and some lasting only seconds. One of these scenes occurs when Hana (Juliette Binoche) reads to Almasy from Herodotus, and Almasy remembers Katherine (Kristin Scott Thomas) reciting the same passages. The voices of Katherine and Hana alternate as Almasy begins to remember some of his past.

The use of flashbacks aids in connecting the past and the present by drawing parallels between the characters. The opening scene of the movie shows a primitive painting of a figure which then blends into the sand dunes of a desert. We then see a plane shot out of the sky with Almasy and Katherine aboard, the event that begins the story. Almasy is severely injured in the crash and is eventually left in a monastery with a nurse named Hana, who believes she is cursed because everyone she has loved has died. The two develop a loving friendship. A Canadian spy, Caravaggio (Willem Dafoe), also stays at the monastery. He believes he knows who the “English patient” is and he wants revenge.

One of the themes concerns the healing of these three characters who have emotional as well as physical scars. At the end of the movie, Hana is ready to reenter life, Almasy is ready to leave life, and Caravaggio can release his hatred and longing for revenge. Another theme that The English Patient explores is love. When Almasy and Katherine meet for the first time Katherine says, “I wanted to meet the man who could write such a long paper with such few adjectives.” Almasy answers, “A thing is a thing no matter what you put in front of it.” Katherine's reply: “Love. Romantic love. Platonic love. Filial love. Quite different things surely.” The movie goes on to explore different types of love—the forbidden love between Almasy and Katherine, the love between nurse and patient, the tender love between Hana and Kip (Naveen Andrews), and love of country.

Cast: Ralph Fiennes (Count Laszlo Almasy), Juliette Binoche (Hana), Willem Dafoe (David Caravaggio), Kristin Scott Thomas (Katharine Clifton), Naveen Andrews (Kip), Colin Firth (Geoffrey Clifton), Julian Wadham (Madox), Jüergen Prochnow (Major Muller, German Officer), Kevin Whately (Sergeant Hardy), Clive Merrison (Fenelon-Barnes), Nino Castelnuovo (D'Agostino), Hichem Rostom (Fouad) Screenwriter: Anthony Minghella Cinematographer: John Seale Composer: Gabriel Yared Producer: Saul Zaentz MPAA Rating: R Running Time: 160 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1996: Picture, Director (Anthony Minghella), Supporting Actress (Juliette Binoche), Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound, Film Editing, Original Dramatic Score (Gabriel Yared), Cinematography (John Seale); Nominations: Actor (Ralph Fiennes), Actress (Kristin Scott Thomas), Adapted Screenplay (Anthony Minghella), Sound Effects Editing; Directors Guild of America, 1996: Director (Anthony Minghella); Golden Globe Awards, 1997: Film-Drama, Original Score (Gabriel Yared); Nominations: Actress-Drama (Kristin Scott Thomas), Actor-Drama (Ralph Fiennes), Supporting Actress (Juliette Binoche), Director (Anthony Minghella), Screenplay (Anthony Minghella); Los Angeles Film Critics Association, 1996: Cinematography (John Seale); National Board of Review, 1996: Supporting Actress (Juliette Binoche), Supporting Actress (Kristin Scott Thomas); Screen Actors Guild, 1996: Nominations: Actor (Ralph Fiennes), Actress (Kristin Scott Thomas), Supporting Actress (Juliette Binoche), Cast; Writers Guild of America, 1996: Nominations: Adapted Screenplay (Anthony Minghella) Budget: $27M Box Office: $78M (domestic gross).

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