The English Patient
THE ENGLISH PATIENT (15)
D: Anthony Minghella
Miramax (Saul Zaentz)
UK/USA/Italy 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 🇮🇹 1996
W: Anthony Minghella [based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje]
DP: John Seale
Ed: Walter Murch
Mus: Gabriel Yared
PD: Stuart Craig
Cos: Ann Roth
Ralph Fiennes (Count László Almasy), Kristin Scott-Thomas (Katherine Clifton), Juliette Binoche (Hana), Naveen Andrews (Kip), Willem Dafoe (Caravaggio), Colin Firth (Geoffrey Clifton)
The English Patient is a David Lean-esque wartime romance which went on to sweep the 1996 Oscars, winning 9 awards in all.
Ralph Fiennes plays Almasy, a Hungarian mapmaker and pilot shot down over enemy lines during the conflict and burned unrecognisable.
Suffering from amnesia, the hospitals incorrectly list him as English and give him little time left to live. He is cared for by Canadian nurse Hana, who reads to him from his memoirs and helps him remember his doomed love affair with the wife of one of his colleagues.
Based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje, the film appears to omit some information which leave some questions unanswered, such as Willem Dafoe's character, a morphine-addicted thief who turns up and drifts out for a reason left far too vague.
The film focuses mostly on luscious desert photography, rich production design and impeccable costumes.
Whilst the story is complex and intricate, the flawless performances and vast scale of Anthony Minghella's sweeping direction carry the film.
Many will enjoy this, but an equal amount will also wonder how it won so many prestigious awards. It's probably important to have seen some of David Lean's films to fully appreciate this, especially Lawrence Of Arabia and Brief Encounter, since the story loosely merges both for something astonishingly breathtaking.