The English Patient (film)

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The English Patient
The English Patient Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Anthony Minghella
Produced by Saul Zaentz
Screenplay by Anthony Minghella
Based on The English Patient 
by Michael Ondaatje
Starring Ralph Fiennes
Juliette Binoche
Willem Dafoe
Kristin Scott Thomas
Music by Gabriel Yared
Cinematography John Seale
Edited by Walter Murch
Production
company
Miramax Films
Tiger Moth Productions
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • November 15, 1996 (1996-11-15)
Running time 162 minutes[1]
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English
German
Italian
Arabic
Budget $27 million[2]
Box office $231,976,425[2]

The English Patient (1996) is a romantic drama directed by Anthony Minghella from his own script based on the novel of the same name by Michael Ondaatje and produced by Saul Zaentz.

The film's invocation of fate, romance, and tragedy unfolds in World War II Italy through the story of a burn victim, a once-handsome explorer whose sacrifices to save the woman he loves spell his end.

Plot[edit]

In the final days of the Italian Campaign of World War II, Hana, a French-Canadian nurse working and living in a bombed Italian monastery, looks after the English patient, a critically burned man without a name who speaks English. She begins a romance with Kip, a Sikh sapper in the British Army who defuses bombs, despite her worries that she is a "curse" on those close to her.

They are joined by David Caravaggio, a morphine-addicted Canadian Intelligence Corps operative who is there to disarm the partisans. He questions the patient, who tells them about his past as Hungarian cartographer Count László de Almásy. In the late 1930s, he was mapping the Sahara as part of a Royal Geographical Society archeological and surveying expedition in Egypt and Libya with Englishman Peter Madox and others. Their expedition is joined by a British couple, Geoffrey and Katharine Clifton. Katharine and Almásy have an affair which founders on his jealousy and her guilt. The explorers find and document the Cave of Swimmers and the surrounding area until they are stopped due to the onset of the war. Madox leaves his Tiger Moth at Kufra oasis before the two go their separate ways.

Caravaggio was a professional thief; he lost his thumbs in an interrogation by a German Army officer and has avenged himself on two of the three men he holds responsible. Only Almásy remains; he accuses the English patient of siding with the Germans. The burn victim insists he has it backwards: he explains how the British betrayed the Count.

When Geoffrey discovers the affair, he lures Katherine aboard their plane and pilots it into the camp in a crash aimed at Almásy. The husband is killed instantly, she is seriously injured, but Almásy narrowly hit. Almásy takes her to the cave, leaving her with provisions, and begins a three-day walk looking for help. He arrives at British-held El Tag and attempts to explain Katharine's plight. He is questioned, detained and transported in chains on a train north to Benghazi. He escapes behind German lines and trades the British maps to them for gasoline. He flies the Tiger Moth to the cave, but Katharine has died. As he flies himself and Katharine's body away, they are shot down by German anti-aircraft guns Her body is not recovered; he is burned and rescued by Bedouin. Hearing Almásy's story, Caravaggio does not take revenge upon him.

After Almásy has finished telling his story, he indicates that he wants Hana to give him a lethal dose of morphine. She complies, and reads to him as he dies. Kip's new post is north of Florence; she and Caravaggio catch a ride that way.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Triumph 3HW 350cc motorcycle specified in the novel as Kip's choice of transport and used in the film

Saul Zaentz was interested in working with Anthony Minghella after he saw the director's film Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990); Minghella brought this project to the producer's attention. Michael Ondaatje, the Sri Lankan-born Canadian author of the novel, worked closely with the filmmakers.[3] During the development of the project with 20th Century Fox, according to Minghella, the "studio wanted the insurance policy of so-called bigger" actors.[4] Zaentz recalled, "they’d look at you and say, ‘Could we cast Demi Moore in the role?"[5] Not until Miramax Films took over was the director's preference for Scott Thomas accepted.[4]

The film was shot on location in Tunisia and Italy.[6] with a production budget of $31 million.[7]

The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film (2002)[8] by Michael Ondaatje is based on the conversations between the author and film editor. Murch, with a career that already included complex works like the Godfather trilogy, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now, dreaded the task of editing the film with multiple flashbacks and time frames. Once he began, the possibilities became apparent, some of which took him away from the order of the original script. A reel without sound was made so scene change visuals would be consistent with the quality of the aural aspect between the two. The final cut features over 40 temporal transitions. It was during this time that Murch met Ondaatje and they were able to exchange thoughts about editing the film.[9]

Two types of plane are used in the film,[10] A De Havilland D.H.82 Tiger Moth and a Boeing-Stearman Model 75. Both are biplanes.[11] The camp crash scene was made with a .5 scale model.

Reception[edit]

The film received widespread critical acclaim, was a box office success and a major award winner: victorious in 9 out of 12 nominated Academy Awards categories; 2 out of 7 nominated Golden Globe Awards categories; and 6 out of 13 nominated BAFTA Award categories.

The film has a "Certified Fresh" rating of 84% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 61 reviews, concluding. "Though it suffers from excessive length and ambition, director Minghella's adaptation of the Michael Ondaatje novel is complex, powerful, and moving."[12] The film also has a rating of 87% on Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim".[13] Chicago Sun Times critic Roger Ebert gave the film a 4/4 rating, saying "it's the kind of movie you can see twice – first for the questions, the second time for the answers."[14] In his movie guide, Leonard Maltin rated the film 3 1/2 out of 4, calling it "A mesmerizing adaptation" of Ondaatje's novel, he concluded by calling the film "An exceptional achievement all around".

Awards[edit]

Organization/Association Award Actor/Crew Outcome Remarks
69th Academy Awards[15][16] Best Picture Saul Zaentz Won
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Juliette Binoche Won In her acceptance speech, Binoche said she had expected Lauren Bacall to win for The Mirror Has Two Faces, which would have been her first Oscar.
Best Art Direction Stuart Craig and Stephanie McMillan Won
Best Cinematography John Seale Won
Best Costume Design Ann Roth Won
Best Director Anthony Minghella Won
Best Film Editing Walter Murch Won
Best Original Score Gabriel Yared Won See The English Patient (soundtrack). Andrew Lloyd Webber joked, "Thank goodness there wasn't a song in The English Patient." since it had such a strong presence.
Best Sound Walter Murch, Mark Berger, David Parker, and Christopher Newman Won
Best Actor in a Leading Role Ralph Fiennes Nominated
Best Actress in a Leading Role Kristin Scott Thomas Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Anthony Minghella Nominated
54th Golden Globe Awards[15][16] Best Motion Picture – Drama Saul Zaentz Won
Best Original Score Gabriel Yared Won
Best Director Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Actor – Motion Picture Ralph Fiennes Nominated
Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Kristin Scott Thomas Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Juliette Binoche Nominated
Best Screenplay Anthony Minghella Nominated
50th British Academy Film Awards Best Film Saul Zaentz Won
Best Cinematography John Seale Won
Best Editing Walter Murch Won
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Juliette Binoche Won
Best Screenplay – Adapted Anthony Minghella Won
Best Music Gabriel Yared Won
Best Direction Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Actor in a Leading Role Ralph Fiennes Nominated
Best Actress in a Leading Role Kristin Scott Thomas Nominated
Best Costume Design Ann Roth Nominated
Best Production Design Stuart Craig Nominated
Best Sound Nominated
Best Makeup/Hair Nigel Booth Nominated
47th Berlin International Film Festival (1997)[17] Silver Bear for Best Actress Juliette Binoche Won
Golden Bear Anthony Minghella Nominated
AFI 100 Years… series of Cinematic Milestones/;BFI Top 100 British films[18]
Year Category Distinction Date Checked Remarks
1998 AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominated
2002 AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions #56
2005 AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Nominated
2007 AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)[19] Nominated .
1999 BFI Top 100 British films #55 1-28-2014

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THE ENGLISH PATIENT (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 1996-12-04. Retrieved 2013-03-04. 
  2. ^ a b The English Patient at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Michael Ondaatje, "Remembering my friend Anthony Minghella," The Guardian, 23 March 2008.
  4. ^ a b http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1996-11-24/news/9611240377_1_ondaatje-novel-film-movie; viewed 8-1-2014
  5. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/us/saul-zaentz-producer-of-oscar-winning-movies-dies-at-92.html?_r=0; viewed 8-2-2014.
  6. ^ "Film locations for The English Patient". Retrieved August 23, 2010. 
  7. ^ http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Masterful-English-Patient-3112068.php#page-1; viewed 1/24-2014.
  8. ^ Random House Inc.
  9. ^ [1]; viewed 1-24-2014.
  10. ^ http://www.impdb.org/index.php?title=The_English_Patient; viewed 1-24-2014.
  11. ^ http://www.aviastar.org/air/england/havilland_dh-82.php; http://www.pilotfriend.com/aircraft%20performance/stearman.htm; both viewed, 1-24-2014.
  12. ^ The English Patient at Rotten Tomatoes
  13. ^ The English Patient at Metacritic
  14. ^ The English Patient :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  15. ^ a b Van Gelder, Lawrence (March 25, 1997). "'English Patient' Dominates Oscars With Nine, Including Best Picture". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved June 18, 2008. 
  16. ^ a b "The 69th Academy Awards (1997) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
  17. ^ "Berlinale: 1997 Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  18. ^ http://www.listal.com/list/bfis-top-100-british-films; 1-28-2014.
  19. ^ http://www.afi.com/Docs/100Years/Movies_ballot_06.pdf; Ballot (not vote) place 111.
Further reading
  • Blakesley, David (2007). "Mapping the other: The English Patient, colonial rhetoric, and cinematic representation". The Terministic Screen: Rhetorical Perspectives on Film. Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN 0-8093-2488-1. 
  • Massood, Paula J. (2005). "Defusing The English Patient". In Stam; Raengo, Alessandra. Literature and Film: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Film Adaptation. Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-23054-8. 
  • Minghella, Anthony (1997). The English Patient: A Screenplay by Anthony Minghella. Methuen Publishing. ISBN 0-413-71500-0. 
  • Thomas, Bronwen (2000). "Piecing together a mirage: Adapting The English patient for the screen". In Giddings, Robert; Sheen, Erica. The Classic Novel from Page to Screen. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-5230-0. 
  • Yared, Gabriel (2007). Gabriel Yared's The English Patient: A Film Score Guide. The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-5910-6. 

External links[edit]