October 1944 in war torn Italy. Hana (Juliette Binoche), a French-Canadian nurse working in a mobile army medical unit, feels like everything she loves in life dies on her. Because of the difficulty traveling and the dangers, especially as the landscape is still heavily booby-trapped with mines, Hana volunteers to stay behind at a church to care solely for a dying semi-amnesiac patient, who is badly burned and disfigured. She agrees to catch up to the rest of the unit after he dies. All the patient remembers is that he is English, and that he is married. Their solitude is disrupted with the arrival at the church of fellow Canadian David Caravaggio (Willem Dafoe), part of the Intelligence Service, who is certain that he knows the patient as a man who cooperated with the Germans. Caravaggio believes that the patient's memory is largely intact, and that he is running away from his past, in part, or in its entirety. The patient does open up about his past, all surrounding his work as a ...Written by
Ralph Fiennes' burned head make-up had not only to be medically accurate, but had also to subtly reflect map-making and cartography, one of this movie's major themes. See more »
As Hana reads the note Almásy has written on the Christmas cracker paper - "the heart is an organ of fire" - we see that it is dated only "December 22". However, when we see Almásy originally writing the note in flashback, we see him date it "December 22nd 1938". See more »
Wang Wang Blues
Music by Gus Mueller, Buster Johnson (as "Buster" Johnson), and Henry Busse
Lyrics by Leo Wood
Published by Cromwell Music, Inc., EMI Feist Catalog, Inc., and Bienstock Publishing Co.
On behalf of Redwood Music Ltd.
Performed by Benny Goodman
Courtesy of Columbia Records By arrangement of Sony Music Licensing See more »
An epic tale of doomed love
'The English Patient' can rightly be compared to the films of David Lean, whose sweeping epics such as 'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'Bridge on the River Kwai' must have inspired the director Anthony Minghella. The film is beautifully photographed, and like 'Lawrence', is set in Northern Africa, but during the second world war. The story is complex, but it boils down to a forbidden love between an opinionated and often difficult archeologist played by Ralph Fiennes and a married woman played by Kristin Scott Thomas.
The story, based on a novel by Michael Ondaatje, is told in flashbacks by Fiennes' Count Laszlo de Almasy - the titular character. The fact that his name does not sound like he's English plays a key role in what unfolds. He has been badly burned in a plane crash, occurring just as the film opens, and is being cared for back in Europe by Hana, an army nurse played by Juliette Binoche. What makes this story epic is the vast sweep across place and time, and the development of characters beyond that of the two ill-fated lovers. The film makes clear that true love and passion, even with dreaded consequences, can make life worth living, or worth dying for. If you're a romantic at heart, and can appreciate a film without the standard happy endings and simple moral codes, you may find that 'The English Patient' speaks directly to you.
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