The English Patient
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAnthony Minghella
Screenplay byAnthony Minghella
Based onThe English Patient
by Michael Ondaatje
Produced bySaul Zaentz
Starring
CinematographyJohn Seale
Edited byWalter Murch
Music byGabriel Yared
Production
company
Tiger Moth Productions
Distributed byMiramax Films (United States)
Miramax International (United Kingdom; through Buena Vista International[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$27–43 million[6][7][8]
Box office$232 million[6]

The English Patient is a 1996 epic romantic war drama 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 starred Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas alongside Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe and Colin Firth in supporting roles.

The eponymous protagonist, a man burned beyond recognition who speaks with an English accent, recalls his history in a series of flashbacks, revealing to the audience his true identity and the love affair in which he was involved before the war. The film ends with a definitive onscreen statement that it is a highly fictionalized account of László Almásy (died 1951) and other historical figures and events. The film received widespread critical acclaim and emerged as a major commercial success at the box-office.

The film received twelve 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.[9] The American Film Institute ranked it the 56th-greatest love story of all time.[10]

As of August 2021, the novel was in early development for a new BBC television series, co-produced by Miramax Television and Paramount Television Studios.[11][12]

Plot

A British biplane, flying across the desert, is shot down by German gunners. The badly burned pilot is pulled from the wreckage and rescued by a group of Bedouin.

Hana, a French-Canadian WWII Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps combat nurse, discovers her boyfriend has been killed through a wounded soldier. In October 1944 Italy, she is caring for a dying, severely burned English-accented patient who says he cannot remember his name. His only possession is a copy of Herodotus' Histories, with personal notes, pictures, and mementos stored inside.

When a nurse friend is killed in front of her, Hana decides she is a curse to her loved ones. She gains permission to settle in a bombed-out monastery with her patient, as he is suffering during their hospital unit's relocation.

Lieutenant Kip, portrayed by Naveen Andrews, is a Sikh sapper in the British Indian Army posted with Sergeant Hardy to clear German mines and booby traps, soon joins them. David Caravaggio, a Canadian Intelligence Corps operative who was tortured during a German interrogation, also arrives there. He questions the patient, who gradually reveals his past through a series of flashbacks. Over the days of the patient relating his story, Hana and Kip begin a shy love affair.

In the late 1930s, he was exploring a region of the Sahara, as he is Hungarian cartographer László Almásy. He was part of a Royal Geographical Society archeological and surveying expedition group, including his good friend, Englishman Peter Madox, and British couple Geoffrey and Katharine Clifton, who provided aerial surveys using their plane.

Almásy discovers through a Bedouin the location of the ancient Cave of Swimmers, containing cave paintings. As the group documents their find, Almásy and Katharine fall in love. He writes about her in notes folded into his book, which she discovers when he awkwardly accepts two watercolours of the cave walls and asks her to paste them into the book.

Upon returning to Cairo, they begin an affair, while the group arranges for more detailed archaeological surveys of the cave and the surrounding area. Almásy buys her a silver thimble as a gift. Some months later, Katharine abruptly breaks things off, fearing Geoffrey will discover them. Shortly afterward the archaeological projects are halted due to the onset of the war. Madox leaves his Tiger Moth airplane at Kufra Oasis before his return to Britain.

Caravaggio now seeks revenge for his injuries, so far killing the German interrogator who cut off his thumbs and the spy who identified him, but now seeks whoever provided maps to the Germans, allowing them to infiltrate Cairo. He suspects Almásy, asking "Did you kill the Cliftons?", to which Almásy concedes "Maybe... I did".

Almásy tells Caravaggio, with Hana listening nearby, about packing camp in 1941 when Geoffrey arrives overhead. He aims at Almásy, who jumps out of the way. Geoffrey is dead at the controls and Katharine badly injured in the front seat. It was an attempted double murder-suicide, as he uncovered their affair. Almásy carries her to the Cave of Swimmers. Seeing her wearing the thimble on a chain, she declares she has always loved him.

Leaving her there with provisions and his book, Almásy walks three days cross-desert. Arriving at British-held El Tag, he explains her desperate situation and asks for help, but a young officer detains him on suspicion of being a spy.

Transported away by train, Almásy escapes and eventually comes across a German army unit. They take him to the Kufra Oasis, where Madox has hidden his plane. Exchanging maps for fuel, Almásy flies to the cave, where he confirms Katharine's death. Taking her on the plane, they are burned when shot down, connecting to the opening scene. After hearing the story, Caravaggio gives up his quest for revenge.

Kip is reposted once he has cleared the explosives; he and Hana agree they will meet again. Later, Almásy tells her he has had enough by pushing many vials of morphine towards her. Though distraught, Hana grants his wish, administering the lethal dose. As he drifts to sleep, she reads him Katharine's final letter, written while alone in the cave. The next morning Hana goes with Caravaggio to Florence, holding Almásy's book tightly as they ride away.

Cast

In addition, Torri Higginson plays Mary and Liisa Repo-Martell plays Jan, appearing briefly as Hana's nursing corps colleagues.

Production

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.[13] According to Minghella, during the development of the project with 20th Century Fox, the "studio wanted the insurance policy of so-called bigger" actors.[14] Zaentz recalled, "they'd look at you and say, 'Could we cast Demi Moore in the role'?"[15] After months of disputes with Fox, the studio pulled out just three weeks before production was to begin and Harvey Weinstein came in and acquired worldwide rights for Miramax Films for $27.5 million.[8][14] After Miramax became involved, the director's preference for Scott Thomas in the role of Katharine was honored.[14] To help the film get made, cast and crew agreed to salary deferrals totalling $10 million and Zaentz met the remainder of the production costs. Including the deferred costs, Variety reported the production costs at $43 million. The deferments were due to be paid after the film broke even, however, although the actors received a deferred payment of $5 million, after over three years after release, others were still waiting for their deferred salaries, subject to an audit of the figures.[8] Zaentz sued Miramax in 2006 claiming $20 million but the case was still unresolved when Zaentz died in 2014.[16][17]

The film was shot on location in Tunisia[18] and Italy.[19][20]

The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film[21] 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.[22]

In the film, two types of aircraft were used:[23] a De Havilland D.H.82 Tiger Moth and a Boeing-Stearman Model 75. Both are biplanes.[24] 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.

Music

Main article: The English Patient (soundtrack)

Reception

The English Patient received widespread critical acclaim, and emerged as a major commercial success at the box-office, and received nine Academy Awards, six BAFTA awards, and two Golden Globe Awards.

Janet Maslin of The New York Times called the movie "a stunning feat of literary adaptation as well as a purely cinematic triumph".[25] In The New Yorker, Anthony Lane argues that "the triumph of the film lies not just in the force and the range of the performances—the crisp sweetness of Scott Thomas, say, versus the raw volatility of Binoche—but in Minghella's creation of an intimate epic: vast landscapes mingle with the minute details of desire, and the combination is transfixing".[26]

The film has a rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 91 reviews, with an average of 7.90/10. 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."[27] The film also has a rating of 87/100 on Metacritic, based on 31 critical reviews.[28] 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".[29] 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".[30] In 2021, The Boston Globe called the movie a "masterpiece" in a 25-year anniversary review.[31]

Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A−" on a scale of A+ to F.[32]

It became the highest-grossing film in the history of Miramax with a worldwide gross of $232 million.[33][6]

The film is referred to in the Seinfeld episode "The English Patient", where the character Elaine is shunned by her friends and co-workers for disliking the film.[34]

Accolades

Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards Best Picture Saul Zaentz Won [35]
[36]
Best Director Anthony Minghella Won
Best Actor Ralph Fiennes Nominated
Best Actress Kristin Scott Thomas Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Juliette Binoche Won
Best Screenplay – Based on Material Previously Produced or Published Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Art Direction Art Direction: Stuart Craig;
Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
Won
Best Cinematography John Seale Won
Best Costume Design Ann Roth Won
Best Film Editing Walter Murch Won
Best Original Dramatic Score Gabriel Yared Won
Best Sound Walter Murch, Mark Berger, David Parker, and
Christopher Newman
Won
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Feature Film Walter Murch Won
American Society of Cinematographers Awards Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases John Seale Won [37]
Art Directors Guild Awards Excellence in Production Design – Feature Film Stuart Craig and Aurelio Crugnola Won [38]
Artios Awards Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film Casting – Drama David Rubin Nominated [39]
Australian Film Institute Awards Best Foreign Film Saul Zaentz Nominated [40]
Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear Anthony Minghella Nominated [41]
Best Actress Juliette Binoche Won
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best Cinematography John Seale Won [42]
British Academy Film Awards Best Film Saul Zaentz and Anthony Minghella Won [43]
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 Actress in a Supporting Role Juliette Binoche Won
Best Screenplay – Adapted Anthony Minghella Won
Best Cinematography John Seale Won
Best Costume Design Ann Roth Nominated
Best Editing Walter Murch Won
Best Make Up/Hair Fabrizio Sforza and Nigel Booth Nominated
Best Original Music Gabriel Yared Won
Best Production Design Stuart Craig Nominated
Best Sound Mark Berger, Pat Jackson, Walter Murch, Chris Newman,
David Parker, and Ivan Sharrock
Nominated
British Society of Cinematographers Awards Best Cinematography in a Theatrical Feature Film John Seale Nominated [44]
Cabourg Film Festival Best Actress Juliette Binoche Won
César Awards Best Foreign Film Anthony Minghella Nominated [45]
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Film Nominated [46]
Best Supporting Actress Juliette Binoche Nominated
Best Cinematography John Seale Won
Chlotrudis Awards Best Supporting Actor Naveen Andrews Nominated [47]
Best Supporting Actress Juliette Binoche Won[a]
Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Pictures Christopher Newman, Walter Murch, Mark Berger, and
David Parker
Won
Critics' Choice Awards Best Picture Nominated [48]
Best Director Anthony Minghella Won
Best Screenplay Won
Czech Lion Awards Best Foreign Film Nominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Juliette Binoche Won
Best Cinematography John Seale Won
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Anthony Minghella Won [49]
Empire Awards Best British Director Won
European Film Awards European Film of the Year Saul Zaentz Nominated
European Actress of the Year Juliette Binoche Won
European Cinematographer of the Year John Seale Won
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards Best Cinematography Won [50]
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Drama Won [51]
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 Director – Motion Picture Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture Nominated
Best Original Score – Motion Picture Gabriel Yared Won
Golden Reel Awards Motion Picture Feature Films: Music Editing Robert Randles Won
Golden Screen Awards Won
Goya Awards Best European Film Anthony Minghella Nominated
Grammy Awards Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television The English Patient – Gabriel Yared Won [52]
Japan Academy Film Prize Outstanding Foreign Language Film Nominated
London Film Critics Circle Awards British Director of the Year Anthony Minghella Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Cinematography John Seale Won[b] [53]
Mainichi Film Awards Best Foreign Language Film Anthony Minghella Won
National Board of Review Awards Top Ten Films 2nd Place [54]
Best Supporting Actress Juliette Binoche Won
(Tied)
Kristin Scott Thomas
National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Supporting Actress 3rd Place [55]
Best Cinematography John Seale 3rd Place
Nikkan Sports Film Awards Best Foreign Film Won
Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Picture Saul Zaentz Won [56]
Best Drama Picture Won
Best Director Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Actor Ralph Fiennes Nominated
Best Drama Actor Nominated
Best Actress Kristin Scott Thomas Nominated
Best Drama Actress Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Juliette Binoche Nominated
Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium Anthony Minghella Won
Best Cinematography John Seale Won
Best Film Editing Walter Murch Nominated
Best Makeup Fabrizio Sforza and Nigel Booth Nominated
Best Production Design Stuart Craig and Stephanie McMillan Nominated
Best Score Gabriel Yared Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures Saul Zaentz Won [57]
Visionary Award – Theatrical Motion Pictures Won
Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated [58]
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 Screenplay – Adapted Anthony Minghella Won
Best Art Direction Stuart Craig Nominated
Best Cinematography John Seale Won
Best Film Editing Walter Murch Nominated
Best Original Score Gabriel Yared Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Naveen Andrews, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe,
Ralph Fiennes, Colin Firth, Jürgen Prochnow,
Kristin Scott Thomas, and Julian Wadham
Nominated [59]
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Ralph Fiennes Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Kristin Scott Thomas Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Juliette Binoche Nominated
Society of Texas Film Critics Awards Best Screenplay – Adapted Anthony Minghella Won [60]
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture 3rd Place [61]
Best Actor Ralph Fiennes Runner-up
Best Supporting Actress Juliette Binoche Runner-up
Best Screenplay Anthony Minghella Won
Turkish Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Film 16th Place
USC Scripter Awards Anthony Minghella (screenwriter);
Michael Ondaatje (author)
Won [62]
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Screenplay – Based on Material Previously Produced or Published Anthony Minghella Nominated [63]

Lists

Year Category Distinction
1999 BFI Top 100 British films[9] #55
2002 AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions[10] #56

In 2009, The English Patient was included in The Guardian's 25 best British films of the last 25 years list.[64]

See also

Notes

References

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  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. Archived from the original on July 27, 2017. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  5. ^ Bauer, Patricia. "The English Patient". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c The English Patient at Box Office Mojo
  7. ^ Shulgasser, Barbara (November 22, 1996). "Masterful 'English Patient'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Harris, Dana (March 20, 2000). "Zaentz 'English' Impatient". Variety. p. 58.
  9. ^ a b "British Film Institute – Top 100 British Films". cinemarealm.com. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "AFI's 100 YEARS…100 PASSIONS". American Film Institute. Retrieved November 13, 2022.
  11. ^ Smith, Anna. "The English Patient – is it time to revive the epic romance?". Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  12. ^ "'The English Patient' TV Series Adaptation In Works At BBC From Emily Ballou & Miramax TV". Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  13. ^ Ondaatje, Michael (March 24, 2008). "Remembering my friend Anthony Minghella". The Guardian. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  14. ^ a b c Blades, John (November 24, 1996). "'The English Patient': Minghella's Film Fitting Treatment of Ondaatje Novel". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  15. ^ "Saul Zaentz producer of Oscar winning movies dies at 92". The New York Times. January 5, 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  16. ^ Belloni, Matthew (September 29, 2011). "'The English Patient' Producer Saul Zaentz Sues Disney, Miramax for $20 Million". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 28, 2024.
  17. ^ Gardner, Eriq (February 5, 2014). "Miramax Can't Trim Saul Zaentz's $20 Million 'English Patient' Lawsuit". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 28, 2024.
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  28. ^ The English Patient at Metacritic Edit this at Wikidata
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  30. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2013). 2013 Movie Guide. Penguin Books. p. 416. ISBN 978-0-451-23774-3.
  31. ^ Joudrey, Tom (November 11, 2021). "In defense of 'The English Patient,' a masterpiece". The Boston Globe. Retrieved November 14, 2022.
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  35. ^ "The 69th Academy Awards (1997) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on November 9, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
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  37. ^ "The ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography". Archived from the original on August 2, 2011.
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  42. ^ "BSFC Winners: 1990s". Boston Society of Film Critics. July 27, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
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  45. ^ "The 1998 Caesars Ceremony". César Awards. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  46. ^ "1988-2013 Award Winner Archives". Chicago Film Critics Association. January 2013. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
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  57. ^ Copeland, Jeff (March 13, 1997). "Producers Honor a Very Patient Zaentz". E! News. Archived from the original on September 23, 2017. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  58. ^ "1997 Satellite Awards". Satellite Awards. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  59. ^ "The 3rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Screen Actors Guild Awards. Archived from the original on November 1, 2011. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  60. ^ Baumgartner, Marjorie (December 27, 1996). "Fargo, You Betcha; Society of Texas Film Critics Announce Awards". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
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  62. ^ "Past Scripter Awards". USC Scripter Award. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
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Bibliography