Written by Joe Gause
Pass the tissue please! If you plan on watching this movie, I recommend you buy yourself a big box of tissue and be prepared to shed a few tears. This extremely well done post-WWII love story is designed to show you that life doesn’t always have a happy ending. The cast is nothing short of incredible, and the acting is top-notch. Here’s the short and skinny. Count Laszio de Almasy’s (Ralph Fiennes) plane is shot down in the final days of the war. He is badly burned and is in need of special care. Nurse Hana ( Juliette Binoche) volunteers to look after him in an old rundown church. During their time together she discovers that he has had quite a past. He had fallen in love with a married woman (Kristen Scott Thomas) and was secretly trying to convince her to leave her husband and be with him. Of course this never works out the way we want it to. And so begins the first of many tear-jerking events in this tale. She tells him to go away and never see her again (apparently cheating on her hubby was too much guilt for her), so our dear Count goes a bit love-crazy, hitting the drink a bit and becoming a bit like a stalker. One thing leads to another, and the husband (Colin Firth) learns of his wife’s wrongdoings, so he thinks the best way to get revenge on the Count is to run him down in his plane (not the smartest idea). Well, the plane crashes and misses the Count all together. Only problem is the Count’s love was also in the plane and is badly injured. She admits her love for the Count, and it seems we might just have a storybook ending here, but of course this is just false foreshadowing. The Count ends up leaving her in a cave while he walks through the desert for help, promising her he will only be gone for three days. He leaves her food and water and sets out into the vast sand. Well, as luck would have it, he is captured by the Germans, and it takes him quite a bit longer than three days to get back to her. Of course when our hero finally returns to the cave, his true love has died.
So now that I have told you about this tragic tale of true love lost, let me tell you why you should watch it. It’s beautifully done. Cinematically it is perfect, everything from the set design to the wardrobes, you really feel like you’re there. Every detail is there (which is often ignored in period films); the acting is nothing short of an epic achievement on everyone’s part. It’s no wonder it was nine academy awards. The story at some points kinda drags, but it doesn’t really hurt the film. If I have any complaint it’s that it is a bit long; with a running time of 2 hours and 42 minutes it feels a bit dragged out. Other than that, in my opinion it’s one of the great tragic love stories of all time.
Blu-ray comes in 1080p HD 16×9 widescreen 1.85:1 . The video is beautiful. The colors are right one and crystal clear. You can tell the editors really put in the extra time to make this film look stunning. There are not a lot of night scenes, but from what I could tell the blacks looked crisp. I would have liked to see a little grain (being it is a period film), but it didn’t take away from the film at all.
5.1 DTS-HD master audio brings the film to life, although not a lot of booming or bass in this one folks. All the dialog is clear, and the score to the film is really good. A few battle scenes cause your sub to thump a bit, but other than that not too much going on.
Commentary with director /producer/writer: Not really worth the time it takes to watch. I prefer commentary with actors. Hearing these guys talk about the film was just not that entertaining. (No offense guys, you made a great movie.)
About Michael Ondaatje: A closer look at the author of The English Patient. This is yet another bit of special features that I could have lived without, although it was slightly interesting to find out his inspiration for writing the film.
Deleted scenes Some of them I would have liked to see in the final cut, but I understand why they were deleted. The film was already over two and a half hours, so sometimes you have to cut good scenes for the greater good. Glad they added them here, though.
CBS documentary on the making of The English Patient Nice look at the making of the film. Not as in depth as I would like. With so much going on in this film, I would really like to have known how everything was done. There is some good behind the scenes stuff and interviews with cast and crew. But nothing really special.
I’m going to make this short and simple. This is a great film. To the ladies out there, invite the girls over crack open the wine and a box of tissue and cry to your hearts’ content. To all the guys out there, invite your lady friend, over crack open the bottle of wine, offer her a tissue when she needs it, and impress her with your super-sensitive side. Either way it’s a great film and should be given the respect it deserves. Just for the crystal clear presentation I recommend the Blu-ray installment. Check it out; you’ll be glad you did.