The English Patient (1996)
Classic Movie Reviews
Directed by Anthony Minghella
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche,
Kristin Scott Thomas and Willem Dafoe
The story of The English Patient takes place during WW2 era, but tells a tail of a different kind during that time, a story of love.
A British archeologist is in search for historical sites in the desserts of Africa right before the war starts, but unexpectedly for him, he also discovers the love of his life.
At the same time a story of a burned soldier who is looked after a nurse in a remote bell tower of Italy is told, far from windy deserts of Sahara and on the ending end of the war.A powerful story of love, betrayal, war, and human spirit.
Itís hard to judge a movie when itís good. Itís even harder to say something bad about a movie where there is nothing bad to say, apart from few points that are meaningless on the grand scale of this truly epic and classical film.
All together this film accumulated 9 Academy Award as a result of 12 nominations and another 32 wins and 25 nominations across the globe.
Winning awards that year from practically all motion picture society recognized events for best picture, director, screenplay, editing, cinematography and supporting actress Juliette Binoche, as well as being nominated in practically every other category, including best lead actor Ralph Fiennes and actress Kristin Scott Thomas, best supporting actor Willem Dafoe, itís a 5 star film across the chart.
Made with a modest budget of 27 million, its world wide total came to 230 million. Surprisingly this movie never reached a number one spot in the movie theaters, but time was only on its side, as 50% of its domestic grows came only after nominations and wins from the Academy of Motion Picture.
Based on a novel ďEnglish PatientĒ by Michael Ondaatje who won numerous awards for it, was later turned into a screen play by Anthony Minghella, who also directed the picture. This marvelous film tells a story of love and sorrow, a look at life and human emotion, as we are forced to follow two stories of one man, before, during and after the war.
This long and at times very slow movie, not your average epic film about WW2, but very epic story within a heroic time, became a classic an instance it came out.Lacking in production value at times (i.e. bad green screen effects) other than that the movie hit all the right notes, making it a must see picture for anyone who wants to be a part of a film making business or just enjoys a true cinematic master piece that so rarely come out of Hollywood now a days.
Itís easy but at the same time very hard to evaluate each actor one by one, as they all fulfill each of their part so well that in the end it becomes one big giant performance of a life time, not even mentioning the story that gives all actors a chance to shine and be at their best performance level.
Juliette Binoche, who plays a Canadian nurse, Hana, dedicates her time to a burned victim; Count Laszlo de Almбsy (played by Ralph Fiennes) a British explorer.Laszlo, through a character that we follow the whole film, as well as two different stories of love, life and who introduces us to two different women, another being Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas).
Katharine, a beautiful, rich, elegant wife of Geoffrey Clifton (Colin Firth) who are both forced to live far from Great Brittan, awaiting news in regards to progression of the war. Willem Dafoe (David Caravaggio) is a former acquaintance of Laszlo whose motives are unknown until almost the end of the film.
All actors, lead by a great director, shine. Few scenes are worth mentioning, for their sheer uniqueness value, as well as cinematic and written wonder that they add to the film.
Two love scenes between Laszlo and Katharine that are no more then 10 minutes apart and last for no more then 1 minute, are so unique and mind boggling in terms of their differences, that itís hard to recognize same actors and their characters. The first being a wild, aggressive, loud, animal like passion that is so hard to call love, and second being a very emotional, quite, and most elegant to an extent of being most sweetest torture, as Laszlo slowly and quietly undresses Katherine, enjoying every moment, taking in every inch of her body with his eyes, as if knowing that he will see it for the last time.
It was also nice seeing a familiar face of Naveen Andrews (Sayid in a TV series ďLOSTĒ), who played Kip, a mine detector soldier, who joins Hana in her bell tower retreat. Arguably, one of the best scenes in the whole film is when Kip takes Hana to an old Italian church to show magnificent wall paintings, and through this very fairytale moment a display of great directorial and cinematography work, and most charismatic performance by Juliette Binoche is reviled.
A very touching scene when Hana, with the help from Will and Kip, take the patient on a stretcher out of the room so he can feel the rain, running around, yelling, singing, and celebrating life.
The ending sequence of scenes, when we are told of what really happened to Laszlo and Katharine, is touching and emotional, to an extant when its hard to breath, especially if you imagine yourself in Laszloísí position.
An extraordinary camera work and editing is at its best. Several simple cross fades bring fresh and very unique effect styles that are so rarely used even now.
I am sure this film is going to be discussed for decades to come, itís a must, and it should be on the list of all schools, as a must see film for educational purposes.
With little music as not to overshadow the story and acting, and slow progression of events, an overall very long film, as long and as slow and as real as only a real life can be.
Thatís great film making.