The English Patient (film)

Last updated

The English Patient
The English Patient Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Anthony Minghella
Produced by Saul Zaentz
Screenplay byAnthony Minghella
Based on The English Patient
by Michael Ondaatje
Starring
Music by Gabriel Yared
Cinematography John Seale
Edited by Walter Murch
Production
company
Tiger Moth Productions
Distributed by Miramax Films (through Buena Vista International outside the United States [1] )
Release date
  • November 15, 1996 (1996-11-15)
Running time
162 minutes [2]
CountriesUnited States [3] [4]
United Kingdom [5]
Languages
  • English
  • German
  • Italian
  • Arabic
Budget$27–31 million [6] [7]
Box office$232 million [6]

The English Patient is a 1996 British-American epic romantic war drama film directed by Anthony Minghella from his own script based on the 1992 novel of the same name by Michael Ondaatje and produced by Saul Zaentz. The film tells the story of four people who find themselves in an abandoned villa in northern Italy in the last months of World War II.

Contents

The eponymous protagonist, a man burned beyond recognition who speaks with an English accent, tells his story to the young nurse caring for him in a series of flashbacks, revealing his true identity and the love affair he was involved in before the war.

The film received 12 nominations at the 69th Academy Awards, winning nine, including Best Picture, Best Director for Minghella, and Best Supporting Actress for Juliette Binoche. It was also the first to receive a Best Editing Oscar for a digitally edited film. Ralph Fiennes, playing the titular character, and Kristin Scott Thomas were Oscar-nominated for their performances. The film also won five BAFTA Awards and two Golden Globes. The British Film Institute ranked The English Patient the 55th greatest British film of the 20th century. [8]

Plot

In the final days of the Italian Campaign of World War II, Hana, a French-Canadian nurse of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, gains permission from her unit to move into a bombed-out Italian monastery, to look after a dying, critically burned man who speaks English but cannot remember his name. The patient's only possession is a copy of Herodotus' Histories with notes, pictures and mementos contained inside.

They are soon joined by Kip, a Sikh sapper in the British Army posted with his sergeant to clear mines and unexploded bombs in the local area, including one in the monastery where Hana and the English Patient are staying. David Caravaggio, a Canadian Intelligence Corps operative who has no thumbs as a result of torture during a German interrogation, also arrives to stay at the monastery. Caravaggio questions the patient, who gradually reveals his past to him, Hana and Kip through a series of flashbacks.

The patient tells Hana and Caravaggio that in the late 1930s he was exploring a region of the Sahara Desert near the Egyptian-Libyan border. He is revealed to be Hungarian cartographer Count László de Almásy, who was mapping the Sahara as part of a Royal Geographical Society archeological and surveying expedition in Egypt and Libya with a group including his good friend, Englishman Peter Madox. Their expedition is joined by a British couple, Geoffrey and Katharine Clifton, who own a new plane and are to contribute to the aerial survey efforts.

Almásy is given clues by a local Bedouin man which help the group to discover the location of the Cave of Swimmers, an ancient site of cave paintings in the Gilf Kebir. The group begin to document their find, during which time Almásy falls in love with Katharine. He writes about her in notes folded into his book, which Katharine discovers when Almásy awkwardly accepts her offer of two watercolours she has painted of the cave imagery, and asks her to paste them into the book.

The two begin an affair on their return to Cairo, while the group arranges for more detailed archaeological surveys of the cave and the surrounding area. Almásy buys a silver thimble in the market as a gift to Katharine. Some months later, Katharine abruptly ends their affair from fear her husband Geoffrey will discover it. Shortly afterwards the archaeological projects are halted due to the onset of the war. Madox leaves his Tiger Moth aeroplane at Kufra Oasis before his intended return to Britain.

Over the days while Almásy relates his story, Hana and Kip begin a shy love affair, but Kip is reposted once he has cleared the area of explosives. They agree they will meet again. Meanwhile, Caravaggio reveals that he has been seeking revenge for his injuries, and has killed the German interrogator who cut off his thumbs and the spy who identified him, but has been searching for the man who provided requisite maps to the Germans, allowing them in infiltrate Cairo. He suspects Almásy is that man.

While Almásy is packing up the base camp at the cave site, Geoffrey, in an attempted murder-suicide having apparently long known about the affair between Almásy and Katharine, deliberately crashes his own Boeing-Stearman plane, narrowly missing Almásy. Geoffrey is killed instantly and Katharine is seriously injured. Almásy carries her to the Cave of Swimmers, realising she is wearing the thimble he gave to her on a chain around her neck. She confesses that she has always loved him despite ending their affair. After leaving her with provisions and his book, Almásy begins a three-day walk across the desert to get help.

At British-held El Tag he attempts to explain the situation, but on revealing his name, is detained on suspicion of being a German spy and transported on a train. He escapes from the train, and soon afterwards comes in contact with a German army unit. They transport him to Madox's sequestered plane at Kufra Oasis, where he exchanges its stored survey maps for fuel, enabling him to fly back to the cave. However, he finds that Katharine has since died. He carries Katharine's body from the cave to the Tiger Moth and takes off. This finally connects the story to the scenes at the start of the film, where the plane is shot down by German anti-aircraft guns; Almásy is badly burned, but he is rescued by a group of Bedouin, who bring him to the Siwa Oasis, from where he is moved to Italy.

After he has related his story, Caravaggio decides to spare Almásy, who indicates to Hana that he wishes to die, pushing several unopened vials of morphine towards her as she gives him his regular injection for pain relief. Though visibly upset, she grants his wishes for a compassionate death and, as he dies, she reads him Katharine's final letter, which Katharine wrote to Almásy in his book while she was alone in the cave. Hana and Caravaggio leave the monastery for Florence with a passing truck, and she hugs Almásy's book to herself as she rides away.

Cast

Production

Triumph 3HW 350cc motorcycle specified in the novel as Kip's choice of transport and used in the film Triumph 3HW 350cc motorcycle.jpg
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. [9] During the development of the project with 20th Century Fox, according to Minghella, the "studio wanted the insurance policy of so-called bigger" actors. [10] Zaentz recalled, "they'd look at you and say, 'Could we cast Demi Moore in the role'?" [11] Not until Miramax Films took over was the director's preference for Scott Thomas accepted. [10]

The film was shot on location in Tunisia and Italy. [12] with a production budget of $31 million. [7]

The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film (2002) [13] by Michael Ondaatje is based on the conversations between the author and film editor. Murch, with a career that already included such complex works as 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. [14]

Two types of aircraft are used in the film, [15] a De Havilland D.H.82 Tiger Moth and a Boeing-Stearman Model 75. Both are biplanes. [16] [17] The camp crash scene was made with a 12-size scale model.

The Hungarian folk song, "Szerelem, Szerelem", performed by Muzsikas featuring Márta Sebestyén, was featured in the film.

Reception

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 85% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 88 reviews, with an average rating of 7.89/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Though it suffers from excessive length and ambition, director Minghella's adaptation of the Michael Ondaatje novel is complex, powerful, and moving." [18] The film also has a rating of 87/100 on Metacritic, based on 31 critical reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". [19] Chicago Sun Times critic Roger Ebert gave the film a four-star rating, saying "it's the kind of movie you can see twice – first for the questions, the second time for the answers". [20] In his movie guide, Leonard Maltin rated the film 3 12 out of 4, calling it "a mesmerizing adaptation" of Ondaatje's novel, saying "Fiennes and Scott Thomas are perfectly matched", and he concluded by calling the film "an exceptional achievement all around". [21]

Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A−" on a scale of A+ to F. [22]

Awards

Organization/AssociationAwardActor/CrewOutcomeRemarks
69th Academy Awards [23] [24] Best Picture Saul Zaentz Won
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Juliette Binoche WonIn 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 Art Direction: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: 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 Dramatic Score Gabriel Yared WonSee The English Patient (soundtrack). As he accepted the Academy Award for Best Song, for "You Must Love Me" in Evita, Andrew Lloyd Webber joked, "Thank heavens there wasn't a song in The English Patient is all I can say", 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 Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published Anthony Minghella Nominated
54th Golden Globe Awards [23] [24] Best Motion Picture – Drama Saul Zaentz Won
Best Original Score Gabriel Yared Won
Best Director Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Ralph Fiennes Nominated
Best Actress in a 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 BoothNominated
47th Berlin International Film Festival (1997) [25] Silver Bear for Best Actress Juliette BinocheWon
Golden Bear Anthony Minghella Nominated
YearCategoryDistinction
2002 AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions #56
1999 BFI Top 100 British films #55 [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>The English Patient</i> 1992 novel

The English Patient is a 1992 novel by Michael Ondaatje. The book follows four dissimilar people brought together at an Italian villa during the Italian Campaign of World War II. The four main characters are: an unrecognisably burned man — the eponymous patient, presumed to be English; his Canadian Army nurse, a Sikh British Army sapper, and a Canadian thief. The story occurs during the North African Campaign and centres on the incremental revelations of the patient's actions prior to his injuries, and the emotional effects of these revelations on the other characters. The story is told by multiple characters and "authors" of books the characters are reading.

Michael Ondaatje Canadian novelist and poet

Philip Michael Ondaatje, is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian poet, fiction writer, essayist, novelist, editor, and filmmaker. He is the recipient of multiple literary awards such as the Governor General's Award, the Giller Prize, the Booker Prize, and the Prix Médicis étranger. Ondaatje is also an Officer of the Order of Canada, recognizing him as one of Canada's most renowned living authors.

Gabriel Yared Lebanese composer, conductor

Gabriel Yared is a Lebanese-French composer, best known for his work in French and American cinema.

<i>Truly, Madly, Deeply</i>

Truly, Madly, Deeply is a 1990 British fantasy drama film made for the BBC's Screen Two series, by BBC Films, Lionheart and Winston Pictures. The film, written and directed by Anthony Minghella, stars Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman.

Patrick Andrew Clayton DSO MBE was a British surveyor and soldier. He was the basis for the character of Peter Madox in The English Patient.

<i>Cold Mountain</i> (film) 2003 film drama set towards of the end of the American Civil War directed by Anthony Minghella

Cold Mountain is a 2003 epic period war film written and directed by Anthony Minghella. The film is based on the bestselling 1997 novel of the same name by Charles Frazier. It stars Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renée Zellweger with Eileen Atkins, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Jack White, Giovanni Ribisi, Donald Sutherland, and Ray Winstone in supporting roles. The film tells the story of a wounded deserter from the Confederate army close to the end of the American Civil War, who journeys home to reunite with the woman he loves. The film was a co-production of companies in Italy, Romania, and the United States.

László Almásy

László Ede Almásy de Zsadány et Törökszentmiklós was a Hungarian aristocrat, motorist, desert explorer, aviator, Scout-leader and sportsman who served as the basis for the protagonist in both Michael Ondaatje's novel The English Patient (1992) and the movie adaptation of the same name (1996).

Anthony Minghella British film director, playwright and screenwriter

Anthony Minghella, was a British film director, playwright and screenwriter. He was chairman of the board of Governors at the British Film Institute between 2003 and 2007.

Walter Murch American film editor and sound designer

Walter Scott Murch is an American film editor, director, writer and sound designer. With a career stretching back to 1969, including work on THX1138, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather I, II, and III, American Graffiti, The Conversation, and The English Patient, with three Academy Award wins, he has been referred to by Roger Ebert as "the most respected film editor and sound designer in the modern cinema."

<i>In the Skin of a Lion</i>

In the Skin of a Lion is a novel by Canadian–Sri Lankan writer Michael Ondaatje. It was first published in 1987 by McClelland and Stewart. The novel fictionalizes the lives of the immigrants who played a large role in the building of the city of Toronto in the early 1900s, but whose contributions never became part of the city's official history. Ondaatje illuminates the investment of these settlers in Canada, through their labour, while they remain outsiders to mainstream society. In the Skin of a Lion is thus an exposé of the migrant condition: "It is a novel about the wearing and the removal of masks; the shedding of skin, the transformations and translations of identity."

<i>Return to Oz</i> 1985 film directed by Walter Murch

Return to Oz is a 1985 British-American dark fantasy film released by Walt Disney Pictures, directed and written by Walter Murch, co-written by Gill Dennis and produced by Paul Maslansky. It stars Nicol Williamson, Jean Marsh, Piper Laurie, and Fairuza Balk as Dorothy Gale in her first screen role. The film is an unofficial sequel to the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film The Wizard of Oz, and it is based on L. Frank Baum's early 20th century Oz novels, mainly The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904) and Ozma of Oz (1907). In the plot, Dorothy returns to the Land of Oz to find it has been conquered by the Nome King, and she must restore it with her new friends Billina, Tik-Tok, Jack Pumpkinhead, The Gump, and Princess Ozma.

Saul Zaentz American record company executive and film producer

Saul Zaentz was an American film producer and record company executive. He won the Academy Award for Best Picture three times and, in 1996, was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.

69th Academy Awards

The 69th Academy Awards ceremony, organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) took place on March 24, 1997, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles beginning at 6:00 p.m. PST / 9:00 p.m. EST. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented the Academy Awards in 24 categories honoring films released in 1996. The ceremony, televised in the United States by ABC, was produced by Gil Cates, and directed by Louis J. Horvitz. Actor Billy Crystal hosted the show for the fifth time. He first presided over the 62nd ceremony held in 1990 and had last hosted the 65th ceremony held in 1993. Three weeks earlier, in a ceremony held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on March 1, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by host Helen Hunt. This also served as the launch event for DVD, with its U.S. launch being on the same day as the ceremony.

Gilf Kebir

Gilf Kebir is a plateau in the New Valley Governorate of the remote southwest corner of Egypt, and southeast Libya. Its name translates as "the Great Barrier". This 7,770 km2 (3,000 sq mi) sandstone plateau, roughly the size of Puerto Rico, rises 300 m (980 ft) from the Libyan Desert floor. It is the true heart of the Gilf Kebir National Park.

The 50th BAFTA Film Awards, given by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts on 29 April 1997, honoured the best films of 1996.

<i>The English Patient</i> (soundtrack) 1996 soundtrack album by Gabriel Yared

The English Patient is the original soundtrack, on the Fantasy Records label, of the 1996 Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning film The English Patient starring Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Willem Dafoe, Juliette Binoche and Colin Firth. The original score and songs were composed by Gabriel Yared.

Cave of Swimmers Cave with ancient rock art in southwest Egypt

The Cave of Swimmers is a cave with ancient rock art in the mountainous Gilf Kebir plateau of the Libyan Desert section of the Sahara. It is located in the New Valley Governorate of southwest Egypt, near the border with Libya.

<i>One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest</i> (film) 1975 drama film based on the novel by Ken Kesey

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 American drama film directed by Miloš Forman, based on the 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. The film stars Jack Nicholson as Randle McMurphy, a new patient at a mental institution, and features a supporting cast of Louise Fletcher, Will Sampson, Danny DeVito, Sydney Lassick, William Redfield while being the film debut for Christopher Lloyd and Brad Dourif.

<i>The Fifth Queen</i> Trilogy of novels by Ford Madox Ford

The Fifth Queen is trilogy of historical novels by English novelist Ford Madox Ford comprising The Fifth Queen: And How She Came to Court (1906), Privy Seal (1907), and The Fifth Queen Crowned (1908). It presents a highly fictionalised account of Katharine Howard's arrival at the Court of Henry VIII, her eventual marriage to the king, and her death.

<i>In the Blink of an Eye</i> (Murch book)

In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing is a non-fiction filmmaking book on the art and craft of editing authored by Walter Murch. The book suggests editors prioritize emotion over the pure technicalities of editing. According to The Film Stage, the book “is often considered the essential literary source on film editing.”

References

  1. "The English Patient (1996)". BBFC . Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  2. "The English Patient (15)". British Board of Film Classification . December 4, 1996. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  3. "The English Patient". American Film Institute . Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  4. "The English Patient". British Film Institute . Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  5. Bauer, Patricia. "The English Patient". Encyclopædia Britannica . Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  6. 1 2 The English Patient at Box Office Mojo
  7. 1 2 Shulgasser, Barbara (November 22, 1996). "Masterful 'English Patient'". San Francisco Chronicle . Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  8. British Film Institute - Top 100 British Films (1999). Retrieved August 27, 2016
  9. Ondaatje, Michael (March 24, 2008). "Remembering my friend Anthony Minghella". The Guardian . Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  10. 1 2 Blades, John (November 24, 1996). "'The English Patient': Minghella's Film Fitting Treatment of Ondaatje Novel". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  11. "Saul Zaentz producer of Oscar winning movies dies at 92" . The New York Times . January 5, 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  12. "Film locations for The English Patient (1996)". movie-locations.com. 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  13. Random House Inc.
  14. Bolton, Chris (August 31, 2002). "The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film by Michael Ondaatje". Powell's Books. Archived from the original on May 30, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  15. "The English Patient". The Internet Movie Plane Database. 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  16. "De Havilland D.H.82 Tiger Moth". Aviastar.org. 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  17. "Stearman Model 75: History, performance and specifications". pilotfriend.com. 2006. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  18. The English Patient at Rotten Tomatoes
  19. The English Patient at Metacritic
  20. Ebert, Roger (November 22, 1996). "The English Patient Movie Review (1996)". rogerebert.com. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  21. Maltin, Leonard (2013). 2013 Movie Guide. Penguin Books. p. 416. ISBN   978-0-451-23774-3.
  22. "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  23. 1 2 Van Gelder, Lawrence (March 25, 1997). "'English Patient' Dominates Oscars With Nine, Including Best Picture". The New York Times. Retrieved June 18, 2008.
  24. 1 2 "The 69th Academy Awards (1997) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Archived from the original on February 1, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  25. "Berlinale: 1997 Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  26. "BFI's Top 100 British Films of the 20th Century". listal.com. 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015.

Further reading