After a whirlwind of controversy, today the Academy Awards will be broadcast on television. Among the nominees for Best Picture are “The Revenant” and “Bridge of Spies.” Both films are historical epics. Many movies that have won the major Oscars are in this genre. An example is “The English Patient,” which was released in 1996.
“The English Patient” is set during World War II. It follows two storylines. One shows a beautiful and dedicated nurse, Hana (played by Juliette Binoche), treating a badly injured English patient, Count Lazlo de Almasy (played by Ralph Fiennes), who survived a horrific plane crash. Lazlo does not remember anything about his past. One day, a soldier, Caravaggio (played by Willem Dafoe), shows up and claims he can identify the mysterious patient and that he is responsible of Caravaggio’s missing thumbs. Meanwhile, the nurse has a romance with Kip (played by Naveen Andrews), who is an artist in every sense of the word. His touch allows him to restore murals and to diffuse bombs.
The film’s other storyline is the back story of the plane crash. Lazlo is a cartographer mapping Northern Africa with Geoffrey (played by Colin Firth), Madox (played by Julian Wadham) and Katharine (played by Kristin Scott Thomas). Lazlo falls for Katharine. They have a romantic relationship despite the fact that she is married to Geoffrey. And as a result, all of their futures are changed.
“The English Patient” has a strong script. It personalizes World War II, and it showcases how the battles were both in the trenches as well as in the hospitals.
The best performance is by Juliette Binoche, who is great as Hana, a competent and dedicated nurse. Her work won a well-deserved Academy Award.
“The English Patient” is a very good choice for fans of historical epics.