on March 1, 2012
Filmfan, I believe the name was, you should contact them again. Amazon did the same thing with me (switching one edition for the other), but I was able to prove that they had done it since I had the e-mail from my orginal order, which had the picture of the correct edition. They did apologize for making the switch, and claimed to not know how it happened, but I have trouble believing that. Anyway, they refunded my order, and also gave me an additional $20 credit.
Still, Amazon should not change people's orders without informing them, and I wish they would educate their customer service on the differences between video transfers, being one of the largest retailers of DVDs and Blu-Rays in the world.
on September 7, 2006
After the publication of Michael Ondaatje's Booker-Prize-winning "English Patient," conventional wisdom soon held that the novel, while a masterpiece of fiction, was entirely untransferable to any other medium: too intricately layered seemed its narrative structure; too significant its protagonists' inner life; too rich its symbolism. Then along came Anthony Minghella, who reportedly read it in a single sitting and was so disoriented afterwards that he didn't even remember where he was -- but who called producer Paul Zaentz the very next morning and talked him into bringing the novel to the screen. Two major studios and several fights over the casting of key roles later, the result were an astonishing nine Oscars (Best Picture, Director - Anthony Minghella -, Supporting Actress - Juliette Binoche -, Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Original Score and Sound), as well as scores of other awards.
"The English Patient" is an epic tale of love and loss; of ownership, belonging and the bars erected thereto. It unites the stories of five people: Hungarian count Laszlo de Almasy (Ralph Fiennes), mistaken as English by a British Army medical unit in Italy after professing to have forgotten his identity; Hana (Juliette Binoche), Almasy's Canadian nurse; Katherine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas), his erstwhile lover; Kip (Naveen Andrews), a Sikh sapper and Caravaggio (Willem Dafoe), an ex-spy and thief. All outsiders, they are struggling to come to terms with their lives: Almasy, on his deathbed, reflects back to his life as a North African explorer and his affair with Katherine; Hana believes herself cursed because everybody she cares for dies (in the movie her fiance and her best friend; in the novel her fiance, her father and her unborn baby), Katherine is taken to an all-male company of explorers in Cairo by her husband Geoffrey (Colin Firth), Kip, like Hana, is far away from home (the only Indian in an otherwise British and Italian environment) and Caravaggio lost his livelihood after his thumbs were cut off in captivity by the Germans, on a sadistic officer (Juergen Prochnow)'s orders.
Like the novel, the movie's story largely unfolds in flashbacks: After Hana convinces her superiors to let her stay and nurse Almasy in an abandoned Tuscan villa, she and new arrival Caravaggio, who holds Almasy responsible for his fate, extract the details of his life in Africa and the truth about Katherine, Geoffrey and the events uniting him with the Cliftons and Caravaggio from Almasy in a series of conversations. But at the same time, the story is anchored in the present by Hana's growing attachment to Kip, which shines a different light on the themes also driving Almasy and his relationship with Katherine. The film's outstanding cast, which in key roles also includes Julian Wadham as Almasy's friend Madox and Kevin Whately as Kip's sergeant Hardy carries the story marvelously: Probably their biggest award loss (besides Fiennes's and Scott Thomas's Oscar and other "best lead" nominations and Minghella's screenplay Oscar nomination) was the 1997 SAG ensemble award, which instead went to "The Birdcage."
In his screenplay Minghella made several changes vis-a-vis the novel; the biggest of these doubtlessly a shift in focus from Hana, Caravaggio and Kip to Almasy and Katherine, and the fact that the film is much more explicit about Almasy's identity than the novel. Both were wise choices: Hana's inner demons in the novel are largely exactly that -- *inner* demons, moreover, substantially grounded in the past and thus even more difficult to portray than Almasy's and Katherine's. Similarly, once the focus had moved to the latter couple, Kip's back story would have extended the movie without significantly advancing it; and the same is true for the intersections between Caravaggio's path and that of Hana's father. Secondly, mistaken *national* identity is overall more central to Almasy's character than identity as such; so the novel's intricate mystery about his persona might well have proven unnecessarily distracting in the movie's context. Indeed, once Almasy had become the story's greatest focus, much of its symbolism virtually even required that there be no real doubt about his identity.
But in all core respects, Minghella remained faithful to Ondaatje's novel; particularly regarding its profoundly impressionistic imagery, as shown, for example, in the curves formed by the Northern African desert's endless sand dunes, which in John Seale's magnificent and justly awardwinning cinematography resemble those of a woman's body as much as they do in Ondaatje's language, thus uniting Almasy's two greatest loves in a single symbol.
Doubtlessly the most important image is that of maps: Guides to unknown places like those drawn by Almasy and his friends during their explorations, but also tools of ownership like the cartography of Northern Africa made possible by Geoffrey Clifton's photos, and ultimately symbols of betrayal, as Almasy surrenders his maps to the Germans in exchange for a plane after he feels deserted by the British. And while Kip, who spends all day searching for bombs but wants to be found at night, guides Hana to himself by a series of tiny signposts in the form of oil lamps -- but still never tries to expect her, in order not to get too much attached to her -- Almasy, the perpetual loner who declares that he hates ownership more than anything else, gets so attached to Katherine that he claims her suprasternal notch as his exclusive property and later refers to her as his wife, which due to her marriage to Geoffrey she couldn't truly be in life and could only symbolically become in death. -- The final word on maps, belonging and ownership, however, is part of Katherine's legacy to Almasy (and I still prefer the novel's language here):
"I believe in such cartography -- to be marked by nature, not just label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. ... All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps."
on October 15, 2002
After the badly burned Hungarian patient Count Laszlo de Almasy (Ralph Fiennes) is pulled from the wreckage of a plane, he is taken to a military hospital with no memory of his past. During the journey through Italy, his Canadian nurse Hanna (Juliette Binoche) insists on staying behind in a monastery to prevent further injury and discomfort to her patient. While secluded in the countryside a different world with new meaning unfolds for both of them. The Count flashes back to recall his life as an archeologist on a map making expedition, where he meets and falls in love with a married English woman, Katherine (Kristin Scott Thomas). During his stay, he slowly regains the memories of their life together.
Meanwhile, Hanna who has lost a lover and a best friend in the war, meets Kip (Naveen Andrews), a Sikh bomb disposal expert, and she becomes romantically involved.
Anthony Minghella, director of The English Patient, remarkably brings cultural diversity, compassion, and emotion all together in this film. The cinematography captured by John Seale shows not only the beauty of the desert and its unknown secrets, but also the coldness of the villages during the war. After viewing this film, it leaves no doubt to why this film won nine Academy Awards and Best Film in 1996.
on June 9, 2002
I hate to sound flip about a movie that made such an impressive sweep of the Academy Awards, but this film could best be described as "The Elephant Man meets Lawrence of Arabia." Perhaps I was expecting too much because of all the media hype and the awards.
The other thing that got hyped about the movie was the spectacular cinematography. I can only assume this was because of all the shots involving Kristen Scott Thomas's bare breasts.
For example, there are shots of Thomas's breasts with a Morrocan courtyard in the background, of her breasts with the Morrocan desert in the background, and of her breasts with a Moroccan interior in the background. I guess Morroco is so flat that Thomas's breasts are the only mountains to be seen in this vast expanse of desert.
I agree, Thomas has very nice breasts, and I would even say they are tastefully and even artfully presented in the movie, but this is not enough to qualify a movie as having great cinematography, either. Her breasts almost got enough play in the movie to deserve an extra screen credit by themselves.
However, not to completely bash the movie, there are some beautiful and even spectacular shots of the Morrocan landscape (or wherever it got filmed), and the complex story line with its flashbacks backward and forward in time is not without interest. Ralph Fiennes and Binoche gave fine performances, especially Fiennes, who really deserved the Academy award more than Binoche, but I thought Thomas was somewhat miscast in her role.
The movie is also too long and drags in too many places. Overrall I expected more from a movie that got so much hype and media attention--no doubt that should have been a warning to me. But the movie wasn't bad. I give it high marks for cinematography and some of the acting, but overall I can't rate it higher than about three and a half stars.
on January 4, 2002
Well, so much for the days of "if you can't say anything nice....". I don't mind people disagreeing with me, (as one reviewer wisely said, "Your review reveals a lot about your tastes") but when one needs to lambaste a film that is, by all accounts, well produced, I simply must Re-act. Trying to compare this film (or any other film for that matter) to others is like trying to compare animal species. Some may look similar but they ARE vastly different.
This movie on its own should be commended for its lush cinematography, brilliant actors, sweeping muscial score and fine war-era costumes. Since this film was publicly unpopular, it of course won 9 Academy Awards, just like in years past. I believe the Academy got it Right.
To those who (or know how to) care, give this near 3 hour movie a try. True, the main love story is adulterous,(I enjoyed far more the story of Hana and Kip), but the entire cast, including the desert, kept me involved. Lastly, I have yet to read the novel, since being a former drama student, you learn that different mediums require different approaches, so to compare book and film, for me, is without merit. The English Patient, the movie, however, is worth while and worth seeing.