The English Patient Reviews
It's amazing to me how today's viewers can proclaim a film is long, but yet sit through 100s of hours of a single TV series, "binging" their lives away over material that moves at a literal snail's pace. We all have opinions and our own personal tastes of course, but I believe The English Patient's polarized opinions only mean that the people who hate it simply did not understand its greatness. They dismiss factors that are truly ingenious, such as the brilliant use of flashbacks. They fail to see and appreciate the endless great facets right before their faces, because they simply don't get it. They can't appreciate true beauty and creativity. For these people, nothing in the film has any redeeming quality, simply because it was "long and boring" or because they didn't like the characters. For those reasons, they completely overlook the myriad of truly astounding elements that won them nearly a hundred awards, including 9 Oscars. (And I couldn't care less about awards. If the film won zero awards, my opinion wouldn't change.) These angry people who allegedly wasted time watching this film failed to notice what the admirers notice. Every scene is masterful. The direction, the staging, the sets, the cinematography, the unprecedentedly great music, the acting, the charming and essential subplots, the simplicity, the brilliant story. Those of us who love the film probably wouldn't change a thing. I was sucked in every moment by the sheer excellence of all these elements. I was never bored in the slightest, yet I find many films boring, where truly nothing happens. People need to redefine the words "nothing happens," because this film doesn't even come close to so many acclaimed films today where critics and viewers admit "nothing happens." It's often considered a GOOD thing these days, inexplicably. The English Patient is not one of those films. We are given something fascinating to hang onto every minute.
I find it disturbing and very telling of our society today that one of the greatest artistic achievements in cinema could be bashed in any fashion. Every scene expertly overlaps into the next. From the opening credits to the last moment, there is something creative going on. The story is EPIC. It's exciting, tragic, suspenseful. The historical factor of seeing a riveting WW2 story in its exotic location is alone worth the "price of admission." What has happened to our society where people no longer look upon cinema as a means of escaping one's normal existence? What are people looking for that they have to attack a film with the power to transport one to another world? I believe many people might be merely echoing what they have heard from others about the film, or from Seinfeld, and they never gave it a chance without prejudice. (If people think The English Patient is boring and long, what must they think about The Thin Red Line, or 2001 A Space Odyssey, or Barry Lyndon? Or hundreds and hundreds of other celebrated films by excellent directors?)
A film's length should be whatever it takes to tell the story in the MANNER you wish to tell it. The film has it's own VOICE, and it didn't swerve from it once. So few films have this anymore. The director/writer wanted to take his time to get it right. I personally can't imagine a single scene removed. And I found that the 2 hours 40 minutes went by in a flash. I've watched the film many times and never feel any "length." The claim that the film is "boring" defies any explanation for me. I have tried to understand what people mean by that, and I just can't.
The film has all the elements of a classic drama. It plays like a romantic opera plot or a Shakespearean drama. When I first saw it, I was so engrossed, waiting to see where the story was going. The speed picks up to a lightning pace toward the end, as we find out what happened. The two time periods are quickly fused and the past and present stories reach their zenith at the same time. Both climaxes occur simultaneously in a stunning finale. How on earth is that boring? Not only is it not boring, I found it to be one of the greatest climaxes I've ever seen anywhere. And a brief coda brings it all LITERALLY full circle, but this time we have the full story when we gaze upon the plane with the two passengers. We then see one final scene with pine trees resembling the paint strokes of the cave dwellers. It's one of most breathtaking endings in film history. Yet this is boring to some people. Unbelievable.
Do NOT listen to the scathing reviews. These people have lost their minds. The film is a masterpiece of a sublime originality. Open yourself up, and sit down and don't get up. Commit to watching it, with a big enough screen, and good volume, and no distractions. And please don't watch it if you really think the film topic or setting is something you aren't attracted to for whatever reason. You have to have at least some interest in the genre. Every film is not for everyone. But to viciously attack a masterful film is distressing, and extremely negative unjust comments keep away potential viewers who might appreciate a masterful film.
AAW GGWD 1001
The English Patient
Few high pitched dramatic sequences are shot so beautifully that it is almost impossible not to be moved by it but ticking for around 160 minutes the build of the scrutiny is chewed off way too much before it even hits the screen. Anthony Minghella's adaptation isn't smart enough to match its brilliant execution skills that helps connect the dots no matter how much time it consumes. Ralph Fiennes is brilliant in his portrayal and is supported thoroughly by a great supporting cast like Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe and Colin Firth. The English Patient is a character driven feature where it goes boldly to a dark place and still somehow manages to keep it beautiful and filled with hope where the key lies onto its moving performance.
(However it?s hard to watch Ralph Fiennes in prosthetics and not see Voldemort, and there are quite a few pervy Weinsteinesque touches...)