Thursday, October 11, 2007

Novel Success

The English Patient
Directed by: Anthony Minghella
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott Thomas, Naveen Andrews, Colin Firth

It's a tricky business to adapt a novel into a motion picture. It's a all the more difficult when the novel in question is itself com-plex, where the story is set against the backdrop of the World War II, where there are several stories and incidents, several cultures intermingling with each other...
Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient is a beautifully writren novel, a masterpiece. But it is not an ideal choice for a movie. Therefore, what Anthony Minghella achieves is just extraordi-nary.
The film attempts to retain the complexities of the novel, yet it simplifies the narrative by concentrating on the story of Almásy and his ill-fated love affair with Katherine Cliffton.
In the novel, Hannah, Caravaggio and Kip are equally strong characters. Here, however, we see them only in flashes, just as a mediator leading to the central story. Nevertheless, they leave their mark to underscore the main theme of the film - love lost and futulities of the war. Probably there's nothing new in the sto-ryline as such - love in the time of war - adultry, unbriddled pas-sion, betrayal and redemption, except probably introducing an Indian character in what is essentially an European drama.
Yet the screen is filled with so much energy and so much sense of waste that it overwhlems the audience. Fiennes is brilliant as Almasay. But it's Binoche as Hannah who steals the scenes.

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