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The English Patient

The English PatientThe English Patient is an intriguing
  and absorbing story about love, betrayal
  and dedication set in Africa and Italy
  just before and during the Second World
  War when an aristocratic Hungarian’s
  love for an Englishwoman leads to
  torment and tragedy
...”

USING FLASHBACKS AS HORRIFICALLY-BURNED Hungarian aristocrat Count Laszlo de Almásy (Ralph Fiennes) lies dying in Italy in 1944 and recalls his dead lover, The English Patient tells the story of love, loss and suffering.

De Almásy's aeroplane is shot down by Germans while he is flying on an errand of mercy across the desert but he is saved by tribesmen, who tend his injuries. After being evacuated to Italy, the beautiful French-Canadian nurse Hana (Juliette Binoche), herself no stranger to tragedy, insists on staying alone with him at an abandoned monastery rather than subject him to the discomfort of further travel.

Heavily sedated with morphine, de Almásy's mind drifts back to the day he first met archaeologist Geoffrey Clifton (Colin Firth) and his wife Katharine (Kristin Scott Thomas), and their discovery of a cave with ancient painted figures, apparently swimming.

Beautifully told, the story is woven around the central character — and as the Count dreams of happier times he recalls his work as a map-maker employed, along with several other prominent explorers, by the Royal Geographical Society to chart the vast expanses of the Sahara Desert in the late 1930s.

Geoffrey leaves for Ethiopia while Katharine stays behind. At first de Almásy appears indifferent towards her but after an accident along the dunes, they are forced to spend the night sheltering from a sandstorm in a truck. It is the turning point that will lead to an affair.

Madox (Julian Wadham) arrives with help the following day, but the seeds of love have already been sown and after a passionate liaison back in Cairo, de Almásy falls desperately in love with Katharine. However, it is not long before a devastated and vengeful Geoffrey discovers that his wife has been unfaithful.

World War II has just begun and de Almásy is to find that his whole world is blown apart. Suspected of being German and a spy, the Count cannot get anyone to listen to his denials after he is wrongfully arrested, with a heartbreaking consequence that leads to him being fired on by German anti-aircraft gunners and the plane crash that caused his grave injuries.

Under Hana's watchful eye, de Almásy seems to find some sort of solace. They are soon joined by Canadian David Caraveggio (Willem Dafoe), who was tortured by the Germans in North Africa, and has been directed to Hana by one of her friends. Then Lieutenant Kip Singh (Naveen Andrews), a Sikh bomb disposal expert, turns up with a team of soldiers, including Sergeant Hardy (Kevin Whately) who had earlier saved Hana's life.

Hana becomes romantically involved with Kip, who shows her a unique way to view some lovely paintings that can only be seen from a high vantage point. As she becomes more attached to him, she fears losing him; she has already experienced the death of her boyfriend as well as a close friend.

A WOW of a film, The English Patient benefits from a sympathetic cast and a fantastic, layered story of love and betrayal set against a backdrop of the Second World War. Graceful old planes dance in the sky like freedom-loving butterflies and in a poignant, suggestive scene Katharine relates an ancient legend where Gyges secretly watches the naked queen, kills her husband and becomes the King of Lydia. In the seductive, exotic Egypt of the 1930s, war and tragedy seems so very far away…

The English Patient also features: Jürgen Prochnow as Major Muller; Clive Merrison as Fenelon-Barnes; Nino Castelnuovo as D'Agostino; Hichem Rostom as Fouad; Peter Rühring as Bermann; Geordie Johnson as Oliver; Torri Higginson as Mary; and Liisa Repo-Martell as Jan.

Costume Designer is Ann Roth; Executive Producers are: Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Scott Greenstein; Associate Producers are Paul Zaentz and Steve Andrews; Original Music Composed by Gabriel Yared; Director of Photography is John Seale, ACS; Based on the Novel by Sri-Lankan Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje; Screenplay by and Produced by Saul Zaentz; and Directed by Anthony Minghella.

Filmed in 1996, The English Patient won nine Academy Awards, including for Best Picture, and is released on Blu-ray on 19 September 2011. Certificate: 15 | Total Running Time: 156 Minutes | English & French Language with English & French Subtitles | Catalogue Number: MIROPTD2119 | RRP: £24.99.

Extras: Commentary with Director | Commentary with Director, Producer, Author | About Michael Ondaatje | From Novel to Screenplay | The Formidable Saul Zaentz | An Historical Look At The Real Count Almásy | A Conversation With Anthony Minghella | A Conversation With Saul Zaentz | A Conversation With Michael Ondaatje | A Conversation With Walter Murch.

"A WOW of a film, The English Patient benefits from a sympathetic cast and a fantastic, layered story of love and betrayal set against a backdrop of the Second World War" — Maggie Woods, MotorBar