Don’t rub your eyes, you’re seeing right: The English Patient is my number 1. And I am very well aware how unpopular this choices is. It’s the only winner in this category that has a whole sitcom-episode dedicated to the hate towards it. Complains come from all directions – it shouldn’t have won over Fargo, it’s boring, long, sleep-causing etc…Well, what can I say? For me, it’s simply the most perfect movie in this ranking that is also able to touch me more deeply than any other winner in this category. Unlike The Apartment or Annie Hall, I also didn’t need time to develop this love – even when I was still young I already admired this movie more than anyone I had ever seen. From the first moment Márta Sebestyén’s beautiful voice fills the screen and slowly changes into what I consider the best soundtrack of all time, I am overwhelmed, lost, captured in the world created by Anthony Minghella.
I don’t want to use this review to defend my opinion since I know that I will not convince anyone anyhow so I just want to stand up and declare: My name is Fritz and I love The English Patient. Boy, that felt good! I think that it’s very hard to explain why a certain movie is your favorite. I mean, I can praise the performances, the technical values, the script and the direction but it’s more than all these components that make it my number 1. Somehow, this movie is able to connect with me on a level the others couldn’t. The last 30 minutes have me in tears basically non-stop but The English Patient is a movie that doesn’t only make me cry by the tragic of the story but also simply by its beauty, its perfection and its overwhelming magnificence.
The performances here are all top-notch. Ralph Fiennes is an unlikely romantic hero and his character is an even more unlikely romantic hero but it works because The English Patient isn’t about a teenage romance but about an adulterous affair between two grown-up people who are very well aware of their doings and who cannot seem to explain their attraction to each other any more than Minghella can. The English Patient doesn’t give any reason for the affair and while most others tend to criticize it for this, I don’t really need an explanation – there is an obvious attraction between these two characters but why they fall in love will be their secret forever. Kristin Scott-Thomas is perfect as a woman who seems to be both out of ice and out fire. Juliette Binoche is outstanding as the caring nurse while Willem Defoe, Naveen Andrews and Colin Firth provide wonderful support.
As you see, I love the cast but I would never call it the best ensemble ever – so the cast alone can’t explain the number 1. There is also the story they play – the complex love affair, a story of betrayal and friendship, of war and peace. All characters seem to be lost while looking for something or someone to help them. Maybe I love this movie so much because I get so easily involved into the misery of tragic characters…who knows. I already said that Yared’s score is my favorite of all time but I think it deserves a second mention. His compositions are so peaceful but also so powerful and perfectly accompany the structure of the story. The cinematography…well, who could forget these images? Two flying planes, Juliette Binoche looking at the pictures in the church, the apparently never-ending desert. No other movie in this line-up is able to win me over with its beauty in the same way as The English Patient.
But it’s not just the beauty of it. I don’t want to be that shallow when I pick my number 1. It’s also what is hidden inside – as I said, the tragedy of the story, the fate of all the characters, involves me so much that I can forget everything else. The English Patient is probably not a perfect film from most point-of-views but it is from mine. Even more than perfect. Like the performances of Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves or Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice, The English Patient leaves me almost feeling empty because every emotion inside of me seems to have been used up during the run of the movie. If a movie has a power to touch me so strongly while also being such a complex and deep drama with so much beauty to cherish and so much poetry to discover, then this is my number 1.
I don’t think that anymore words are necessary here – it’s not possible for me to put my feelings about this movie into words anyway. I just hope you are able to accept this as my number 1.