The English Patient is a 1996 epic romantic war drama film directed by Anthony Minghella from his own script based on the 1992 novel of the same name by Michael Ondaatje and produced by Saul Zaentz. The film tells the story of four people who find themselves in an abandoned monastery in northern Italy in the last months of World War II.
The eponymous protagonist, a man burned beyond recognition who speaks with an English accent, recalls his history in a series of flashbacks, revealing to the audience his true identity and the love affair he was involved in before the war. He does not admit his identity or reveal the entire story to the nurse who cares for him and the man who suspects him until the end of the film. This form of exposition is very different from the book, where, under the influence of morphine, the patient talks about his past.
The film received 12 nominations at the 69th Academy Awards, winning nine, including Best Picture, Best Director for Minghella, and Best Supporting Actress for Juliette Binoche. It was also the first to receive a Best Editing Oscar for a digitally edited film. Ralph Fiennes, playing the titular character, and Kristin Scott Thomas were Oscar-nominated for their performances. The film also won five BAFTA Awards and two Golden Globes. The British Film Institute ranked The English Patient the 55th greatest British film of the 20th century.
In the final days of the Italian Campaign of World War II, Hana, a French-Canadian nurse of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, gains permission from her unit to move into a bombed-out Italian monastery, to look after a dying, critically burned man who speaks English but cannot remember his name. The patient's only possession is a copy of Herodotus' Histories with notes, pictures and mementos contained inside.
They are soon joined by Kip, a Sikh sapper in the British Army posted with his sergeant to clear mines and unexploded bombs in the local area, including one in the monastery where Hana and the English Patient are staying. David Caravaggio, a Canadian Intelligence Corps operative who has no thumbs as a result of torture during a German interrogation, also arrives to stay at the monastery. Caravaggio questions the patient, who gradually reveals his past to him, Hana and Kip through a series of flashbacks.
The patient tells Hana and Caravaggio that in the late 1930s he was exploring a region of the Sahara Desert near the Egyptian-Libyan border. He is revealed to be Hungarian cartographer Count László de Almásy, who was mapping the Sahara as part of a Royal Geographical Society archeological and surveying expedition in Egypt and Libya with a group including his good friend, Englishman Peter Madox. Their expedition is joined by a British couple, Geoffrey and Katharine Clifton, who own a new plane and are to contribute to the aerial survey efforts.
Almásy is given clues by a local Bedouin man which help the group to discover the location of the Cave of Swimmers, an ancient site of cave paintings in the Gilf Kebir. The group begin to document their find, during which time Almásy falls in love with Katharine. He writes about her in notes folded into his book, which Katharine discovers when Almásy awkwardly accepts her offer of two watercolours she has painted of the cave imagery, and asks her to paste them into the book.
The two begin an affair on their return to Cairo, while the group arranges for more detailed archaeological surveys of the cave and the surrounding area. Almásy buys a silver thimble in the market as a gift to Katharine. Some months later, Katharine abruptly ends their affair from fear her husband Geoffrey will discover it. Shortly afterwards the archaeological projects are halted due to the onset of the war. Madox leaves his Tiger Moth aeroplane at Kufra Oasis before his intended return to Britain.
Over the days while Almásy relates his story, Hana and Kip begin a shy love affair, but Kip is reposted once he has cleared the area of explosives. They agree they will meet again. Meanwhile, Caravaggio reveals that he has been seeking revenge for his injuries, and has killed the German interrogator who cut off his thumbs and the spy who identified him, but has been searching for the man who provided requisite maps to the Germans, allowing them to infiltrate Cairo. He suspects Almásy is that man.
While Almásy is packing up the base camp at the cave site, Geoffrey, in an attempted murder-suicide having apparently long known about the affair between Almásy and Katharine, deliberately crashes his own Boeing-Stearman plane, narrowly missing Almásy. Geoffrey is killed instantly and Katharine is seriously injured. Almásy carries her to the Cave of Swimmers, realising she is wearing the thimble he gave to her on a chain around her neck. She confesses that she has always loved him despite ending their affair. After leaving her with provisions and his book, Almásy begins a three-day walk across the desert to get help.
At British-held El Tag he attempts to explain the situation, but on revealing his name, is detained on suspicion of being a German spy and transported on a train. He escapes from the train, and soon afterwards comes in contact with a German army unit. They transport him to Madox's sequestered plane at Kufra Oasis, where he exchanges its stored survey maps for fuel, enabling him to fly back to the cave. However, he finds that Katharine has since died. He carries Katharine's body from the cave to the Tiger Moth and takes off. This finally connects the story to the scenes at the start of the film, where the plane is shot down by German anti-aircraft guns; Almásy is badly burned, but he is rescued by a group of Bedouin, who bring him to the Siwa Oasis, from where he is moved to Italy.
After he has related his story, Caravaggio decides to spare Almásy, who indicates to Hana that he wishes to die, pushing several unopened vials of morphine towards her as she gives him his regular injection for pain relief. Though visibly upset, she grants his wishes for a compassionate death and, as he dies, she reads him Katharine's final letter, which Katharine wrote to Almásy in his book while she was alone in the cave. Hana and Caravaggio leave the monastery for Florence with a passing truck, and she hugs Almásy's book to herself as she rides away.
Ralph Fiennes as Almásy
Kristin Scott Thomas as Katharine Clifton
Juliette Binoche as Hana
Colin Firth as Geoffrey Clifton
Willem Dafoe as Caravaggio
Brief Encounter is a 1945 British romantic drama film directed by David Lean from a screenplay written by Noël Coward, based on his 1936 one-act play Still Life. (Another on screen adaptation was in 1974, a TV movie of the same name starring Richard Burton and Sophia Loren.)
It stars Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, and Joyce Carey. The film follows a passionate extramarital affair in England shortly before WWII. The protagonist is Laura, a married woman with children, whose conventional life becomes increasingly complicated following a chance meeting at a railway station with a married stranger with whom she subsequently falls in love.
Brief Encounter premiered in London on 13 November 1945, and was theatrically released on 25 November to widespread critical acclaim. It received three nominations at the 19th Academy Awards, Best Director, Best Actress (for Celia Johnson), and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The film is widely cited by film critics, historians, and scholars as one of the greatest films of all time. In 1999, the British Film Institute ranked it as the second-greatest British film of all time. In 2017, a poll of 150 actors, directors, writers, producers, and critics for Time Out had it ranked the 12th-best British film ever.
Laura Jesson(Celia Johnson), a respectable middle-class British woman in an affectionate but rather dull marriage, tells her story while sitting at home with her husband, imagining that she is confessing her affair to him.
Laura, like many women of her class at the time, goes to a nearby town every Thursday for shopping and to the cinema for a matinée. Returning from one such excursion to Milford, while waiting in the railway station's refreshment room, she
meets another passenger Alec Harvey(Trevor Howard), an idealistic general practitioner who also works one day a week as a consultant at the local hospital, who solicitously removes a piece of grit from her eye.
The two accidentally meet again outside Boots the Chemist, and then on a third meeting share a table at lunch, then, both having free time, go to an afternoon performance at the Palladium Cinema. Both married with children, they are soon troubled to find their innocent and casual relationship developing into something deeper, approaching infidelity.
For a while, they meet openly, until they run into friends of Laura's, and the perceived need to deceive others arises. The second lie comes more easily. They eventually go to a flat belonging to Stephen, a friend of Alec's and a fellow doctor, but are interrupted by Stephen's unexpected and judgmental return. Laura, humiliated and ashamed, runs down the back stairs and into the streets. She walks and walks, and sits on a bench for hours, smoking, until a concerned policeman encourages her to get in out of the cold. She arrives at the station just in time to take the last train home.
The recent turn of events makes the couple realise that an affair or a future together is impossible. Understanding the temptation and not wishing to hurt their families, they agree to part. Alec has been offered a job in Johannesburg, South Africa, where his brother lives.
Their final meeting occurs in the railway station refreshment room, now seen for a second time with the poignant perspective of their story. As they await a heart-rending final parting, Dolly Messiter, a talkative acquaintance of Laura's, invites herself to join them and begins chattering away, oblivious to the couple's inner misery.
As they realise that they have been robbed of the chance for a final goodbye, Alec's train arrives. With Dolly still chattering, Alec departs without the passionate farewell for which they both long. After shaking Dolly's hand, he discreetly squeezes Laura on the shoulder and leaves. Laura waits for a moment, anxiously hoping that Alec will walk back into the refreshment room, but he does not. As the train is heard pulling away, Laura is galvanised by emotion, and hearing an approaching express train, suddenly dashes out to the platform. The lights of the train flash across her face as she conquers a suicidal impulse. She then returns home to her family.
Laura's kind and patient husband, Fred, shows that he has noticed her distance in the past few weeks, although if he has guessed the reason is not clear. He thanks her for coming back to him. She cries in his embrace.
The shooting of the film took place in early 1945 before the Second World War had finished. Much of the film was shot at Carnforth railway station in Lancashire, then a junction on the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. As well as a busy station being necessary for the plot, it was located far enough away from major cities to avoid the blackout for film purposes, but some of the urban scenes were shot in London or at Denham or Beaconsfield near Denham Studios where the film was made.
Excerpts from Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 recur throughout the film, played by the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Muir Mathieson with pianist Eileen Joyce. There is also a scene in a tea room where a salon orchestra plays the Spanish Dance No. 5 (Bolero) by Moritz Moszkowski.
The film was a great success in the UK and the 21st most popular film at the British box office in 1946. And it was voted one of the 10 greatest films ever made in two separate 1952 critics' polls. In 1999 the film was given the #2 slot on the British Film Institute's BFI Top 100 British films.
Today, the film is widely praised for its black-and-white photography and the mood created by the steam-age railway setting, both of which were particular to the original David Lean version.
Celia Johnson as Laura Jesson
Trevor Howard as Dr Alec Harvey
Gosford Park is a 2001 satirical black comedy mystery film directed by Robert Altman and written by Julian Fellowes. It was influenced by Jean Renoir's French classic, La Règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game)
The story follows a party of wealthy Britons plus an American producer, and their servants, who gather for a shooting weekend at Gosford Park, an English country house. A murder occurs after a dinner party, and the film goes on to present the subsequent investigation from the servants' and guests' perspectives.
Development on Gosford Park began in 1999, when Bob Balaban asked Altman if they could develop a film together. Balaban suggested an Agatha Christie-style whodunit and introduced Altman to Julian Fellowes, with whom Balaban had been working on a different project.
The film went into production in March 2001, and began filming at Shepperton Studios with a production budget of $19.8 million.
Gosford Park premiered on 7 November 2001 at the London Film Festival, and was released in January 2002 by USA Films and in February 2002 in the United Kingdom.
The film was successful at the box office, grossing over $87 million in cinemas worldwide and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Altman and Best Supporting Actress for both Helen Mirren and Meggie Smith, and won Best Original Screenplay for Julian Fellowes; it was also nominated for nine British Academy Film Awards.
The TV series Downton Abbey written and created by Julian Fellowes was originally planned as a spin-off of Gosford Park, but instead was developed as a standalone property inspired by the film, and set earlier in the 20th century.