The English Patient (1996)

The English Patient
Directed by Anthony Minghella
Written by Anthony Minghella based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje
(number 398)

Before Harry Potter, Ralph Fiennes plays Voldemort. Okay, not exactly, but…he does have that look about him in the burn make up. Juliette Binoche is a nurse at the tale end of the second world war, stationed in Italy. She’s soft hearted, kissing sad soldiers, loaning money to her girl friend and generally being lovely.

The only movie of Minghella’s I have seen before is The Talented Mr Ripley, which is a rough and harsh sort of film but excellently made. However I find out by looking on his imdb page that he wrote almost all of the old Jim Henson Storyteller episodes which had a huge impact on me as a child.

The flying sequences really are lovely. I thought the photography of the desert was very beautiful, especially the stars at night and the start of the sandstom, but overall I was a lot more invested in the ‘current day’ story with Almasy in the bed and Hana being the main character. I couldn’t find too much to connect to in the ‘rich white people lost in the desert’ storyline of the flashbacks. It’s hard to feel excited about the romance when you don’t really care about the characters involved.

Does it make me love the people? Yes, Hana is sweet and sad and interesting, the perfect fantasy of a WW2 nurse. Almasy is a bit less exciting, on account of I felt he’s rather aloof. He does make some good jokes though.
I loved Willem Defoe’s Caravaggio instantly, so cute and charming and yeah, I have a stupid soft spot for thief characters because of roleplaying.
Kip is lovely too, I like that a person of colour is included as a well spoken, interesting and funny character who also has a romantic role to play. The sequence where he rigged her up so she could see the Frescos on the highest parts of the walls was charming. Also hey, Sayid from Lost. He’s awesome.

Bechdel test: Yes, Hana and Mary speak about Hana staying on by herself and them being worried about seeing each other again. Also Hana talks to Jan about needing/loaning money for lace.

Best lines are generally a bit poetic…

Almásy: What was all that banging? Were you fighting rats, or the entire German army?

Caravaggio: You’re in love with him, aren’t you? Your poor patient. You think he’s a saint because of the way he looks? I don’t think he is.
Hana: I’m not in love with him. I’m in love with ghosts. So is he, he’s in love with ghosts.

Almásy: This… this, the hollow at the base of a woman’s throat, does it have an official name?
Madox: Good God, man, pull yourself together.

Caravaggio: I thought I would kill you
Almasy: You can’t kill me, I died years ago.

State of Mind: Why is this film so loooooong? It’s too long. I also felt like Almasy was generally a bit of a tool so I found him hard to relate to. However overall the feel of the film is quite pleasant, pretty and calm with some nice jokes in it. Fantastically acted and directed, but I don’t know how I feel in terms of watching it again. Maybe some rainy Sunday afternoon while I do craft it could be nice to have on, but then I could also probably watch something else. Not my favourite, but not my most hated either.

Watched movie count



movie 498 on the list is Werner Herzog Lars Von Trier’s film that caused a lot of scandal, a lot of people walking out of the cinema when it was screened in the local film festival.

I was afraid to watch it, but then my personal circumstances made me feel pretty crappy so I figured this movie wouldn’t make me feel worse.

It’s a beautiful film, visually. Strange and unsettling, an alien landscape of trees and mist to reflect the mental turmoil of the central two characters.

Willem Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg do an amazing job, it’s a two hander film and they carry it beautifully. The slow descent into something like madness.

There’s an unsettling line drawn between women and evil, but… I dunno. It’s hard to tell if it’s something the film maker intended or if it’s just this particular story. There was the familiar ‘women are of nature’ kind of trope as well with the birds helping her out at one point, deer watching and apparently she could summon hail?

Heh. I dunno, maybe I’m desensitized after seeing a bunch of other movies (The Piano Teacher, Hard Candy, Dogtooth) or maybe it’s my mood, but I don’t think it was the worst/most shocking movie ever. Then again I haven’t watched Saw yet…

That said, there’s no reason anyone should have to watch this. I don’t imagine it will change anyone’s lives, and it certainly didn’t make me love the humans depicted in it. It was more like dispassionately watching their breakdown.

I enjoyed it more than I thought I might though. I may even watch it again as it is aesthetically pleasing and the soundtrack was pretty cool.

Maybe I should rate these, but I don’t know what scale to use heh. No, I know. State of mind in the reaction phase.

State of Mind: shell shocked, confused by the ending, impressed with the visuals, dispassionate.