Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,728,960 articles and books

English patient.



It's a pretty picture, to be sure; an Emotional Grande Tour of the windswept wind·swept  
adj.
Exposed to or swept by winds: windswept moors.


windswept
Adjective

1.
 Sahara and impossibly gorgeous characters engaged in a do-or-die tale told in Tolstoy meets - National Geographic style.

Of course, The English Patient is a classic. It's got all those great themes: all-consuming passion, personal versus political interests, self sacrifice versus betrayal. And bags of Oscars too.

In fact, The English Patient is considered such a great film that Canadians and Brits are quietly arguing over which country deserves more credit.

"Isn't it wonderful that the English are doing so well this year with the Oscars for The English Patient?" British novelist Margaret Drabble Margaret Drabble, Lady Holroyd, CBE, (born June 5, 1939) is an English novelist, biographer and critic. Life
Drabble was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, as the second daughter of the advocate and novelist John F. Drabble and the teacher Kathleen Marie, née Bloor.
 recently told the Maple Leaf maple leaf

of Canada. [Flower Symbolism: Jobes, 283]

See : Flower Or Plant, National
 Club here. She was recounting an incident her husband, biographer Michael Holroyd Sir Michael De Courcy Fraser Holroyd, CBE (born August 27, 1935) is a biographer, born in London and educated at Eton College. From 1985 to 1988 he was the president of the English branch of PEN. He is married to the author Margaret Drabble. , had experienced the day before in Cambridge.

"Actually, I think you'll find the film is based on a book written by a Canadian, Michael Ondaatje Noun 1. Michael Ondaatje - Canadian writer (born in Sri Lanka in 1943)
Ondaatje, Philip Michael Ondaatje
," Holroyd told the man.

"Oh no, no, no," the man argued. "I think you'll find you're wrong there."

One week later, the gushing gush  
v. gushed, gush·ing, gush·es

v.intr.
1. To flow forth suddenly in great volume: water gushing from a hydrant.

2.
 continued at a private screening I attended at the National Film Theatre. Here, before a crowd of international critics and journalists, the Booker-prize-winning Ondaatje and British film director Anthony Minghella bowed down Adj. 1. bowed down - heavily burdened with work or cares; "bowed down with troubles"; "found himself loaded down with responsibilities"; "overburdened social workers"; "weighed down with cares"
loaded down, overburdened, weighed down
 before each other in praise and thanksgiving so lavish it was embarrassing.

Admittedly, the story is compelling. It's about a dashing archaelogist, brilliantly played by Ralph Fiennes Ralph Nathaniel Fiennes, (IPA: [ˈreɪf ˈfaɪnz], born 22 December 1962) is a Tony Award-winning, Academy Award-nominated and Genie Award-nominated English actor. , who, just before World War II breaks out, becomes involved in a passionate affair with his friend's wife. After the distraught husband dies in an attempt to kill his wife's lover, she is left injured in the desert. When the Allies refuse to help the archaeologist rescue his mistress, he betrays vital secrets to the Germans in exchange for a plane. But he arrives too late to save her and, blinded by tears, his plane crashes, leaving him horribly burnt and in excruciating pain. Eventually, he persuades the French Canadian nurse who is looking after him in Tuscany to give him a drug overdose Drug Overdose Definition

A drug overdose is the accidental or intentional use of a drug or medicine in an amount that is higher than is normally used.
 while she reads to him from Herodotus.

Romantic stuff.

As the film ended, I couldn't fail to notice all the sniffing going on around me. Some were even sobbing.

Oh, for gawd's sake, I thought, dry-eyed. It's only a film!

Actually, it bothered me that, unlike the weeping masses around me, I remained strangely unmoved.

Why, I wondered?

The answer is this. Beautiful as the film is, its message is quite dangerous. While I have always appreciated the moral minefield that any grand passion presents--indeed, this is a topic that the greatest novelists and playwrights have wrestled with--The English Patient is a moral swamp. With great talent, elegance and subtlety, it condones and romanticizes euthanasia, treachery and adultery. It makes the "it's bigger than both of us" mentality more understandable and justifiable than now obsolete notions of duty and self-sacrifice.

In a century of moral decline, it seems, the philosophy of the novelist E. M. Forster Edward Morgan Forster, OM (January 1, 1879 – June 7, 1970), was an English novelist, short story writer, and essayist. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society.  has born its rotten fruit. As you'll remember, it was Forster who famously declared that if he was faced with the moral dilemma of having to choose between betraying his friend or his country, he hoped he would have the guts to betray his country. As you'll also remember, it was the likes of spies such as Anthony Blunt, Kim Philby and Guy Burgess who followed his sickly advice.

But none of this irritated me nearly as much as the fact that our hero, who betrays the Allies for his "friend," found inexplicable solace in a volume of Herodotus which he carried around like a talisman.

Herodotus was a witty Roman historian who had about as much to say about the meaning of life as Rod McKuen has about ethics, Julius Caesar about child raising or Shirley MacLaine about thermodynamics thermodynamics, branch of science concerned with the nature of heat and its conversion to mechanical, electric, and chemical energy. Historically, it grew out of efforts to construct more efficient heat engines—devices for extracting useful work from expanding .

It was here, I think, that I could not longer take the gorgeous-to-look-at archaeologist too seriously. Sure, his hormones were raging and he was without doubt a sensitive New Age guy but, in the end, his reading habits revealed the pitiful truth: he was a bit dim.

But even that's not as worrying as the fact that, having been given the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, The English Patient takes its viewers to the edge of a fantastically glamorous moral abyss and then encourages them, like lemmings, to jump in.

Granted, films have never raised the moral sensibility of any society but they often reflect its moral temperature.

It seems ours is delirious de·lir·i·ous
adj.
Of, suffering from, or characteristic of delirium.
 with high fever, all the while congratulating its patients for their acute intelligence and enlightened compassion.

Paula Adamick writes from London, England where she recently founded a newspaper for Canadian expatriates.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Catholic Insight
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Movie Review
Date:May 1, 1997
Words:775
Previous Article:Bishops on poverty: case closed?
Next Article:British bishops and elections.



Related Articles
LAS VEGAS ODDS ON THE OSCARS.
OSCAR FACTS.
`PATIENT,' OTHER INDEPENDENTS PACE FIELD.
OSCARS '97.
`ENGLISH PATIENT' LEADS BAFTA PACK.
INDEPENDENT FILMS, OSCAR'S DREAMS : THE 69TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS PRESENTATION.
JOLLY GOOD! : `ENGLISH PATIENT' BEST PICTURE.
THE TROPHY OPPORTUNITIES THAT GOT AWAY : ONE RAMBLED, ONE SHONE - AND MORE.
`PATIENT' CAMPAIGN : ACTRESS FALLS IN LOVE WITH PART AFTER READING WARTIME NOVEL.
`ENGLISH PATIENT' REAPS 7 GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters