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Movie Review

The English Patient

Reviewed by: Ken James

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
160 min.

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Naveen Andrews, Colin Firth, Julian Wadham, Kevin Whately, Jurgen Prochnow / Director: Anthony Minghella

“The English Patient” is a compelling drama with a captivating and beautifully photographed story, but it is ensconsed in humanistic (Godless) ideology. Some serious issues are dealt with but, unfortunately, not tackled from a Bible-based perspective. From its strictly humanistic viewpoint this award-winning production deals with extramarital affairs, premarital sex, life without God, violence of war, death, suicide, and euthanasia.

The setting takes us to in Italy during World War II. A young French-Canadian nurse, Hana (Juliette Binoche) is convinced that everyone she loves dies. Wanting to escape from the death-ridden life she knows, she yearns to care for her amnesiac/critically burned patient (Ralph Fiennes), and takes him into the rubble of a Tuscany monestary.

The patient—world-traveler Count Laszlo de Almasy of Budapest, Hungary—slips between reality and remembrance, reflecting on his colorful past and Katharine, the only woman he has ever loved. Unfortunately, she is married, and not to him. Through continuous flashbacks we learn that both were assigned to a map-making expedition in North Africa and that an obvious attraction existed between the two. But a mutual respect and lack of opportunity keep them from physical intimacy …until temptation became too great to bear.

Though he is now near death, the patient can recall (and viewers witness) seemingly every encounter with his lover during their assignment together. Eloquent thought and poetic remembrance captivate much of the dialogue and attempt to convince viewers that this match is true love. But, don’t be fooled: sex and romantic pursuit outside of marriage can never be “true” love. Fortunately, some of the consequences of adultery are explored in this story.

While the patient of noble birth is being cared for by Hana (the nurse), she takes pleasure in getting to know him. She begins to love him but becomes afraid that he, too, will die. The two of them are not alone for long in the abandoned monastery. Soon a mysterious fellow Canadian (an acquaintance of the Count), and two Allied soldiers arrive. One is a young Sikh known as Kip (whose primary responsibility is to defuse German bombs). Kip and Hana begin a short love affair marked by romance and beauty. But, Hana is afraid Kip will die, like everyone else she loves. His profession certainly does not help alleviate her fears, either.

Eventually, the past and the present meet, drawing to a sad conclusion. While all 160 minutes of this film are top-quality in terms of script, cinematography, etc., beware of the way that the condition of the human heart is dealt with in this story. The “English patient” is a self-proclaimed atheist, and makes reference to God only once when he says “There is no God,” which may be why he feels it is okay to be held to no moral standard. He continually soothes the speaking conscience of his lover by convincing her that everything is okay. While profanity is mostly non-existent, full frontal nudity and sexual situations are prevalent.

Year of Release—1996

For more information on the consequences of sex outside of marriage, see the following:

Why should I save sex for marriage? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality?

Viewer Comments
Actually, I like its cutting and photography. But, the story brought the wrong message “thy must brave to love.” Even the Count were alone with the lady, he knew his position.
—Angie Lau, age 20
Chuck Colson reviewed this movie on his Breakpoint series noting the similarities to “Casa Blanca.” The difference is, in the Bogey era, a decision was made “for the good of all” instead of selfish individualism displayed in EP. Stick to CB!
—Teri, age 39
This movie won like, ten million Oscars, why? I have reletives who saw this movie, and they didn’t think it was that good. I mean they beat all of those other movies, that to me were, well, better. They didn’t deserve all of those awards, and I got just a little bit annoyed when I saw them go up every five seconds. Personally, I think that the Oscars are rigged.
—Julie Kingsborough, age 14
Thank you, Ian, for sharing your observation regarding the “pro-euthanasia statement of this movie.” While our reviewers do their best to fit as many observations as possible into a limited space, sometimes we miss or must leave out something. We appreciate the many good comments that are added to our reviews in these unique “Interactive Comments” sections. God bless you!
—Dale Mason, Editor
It is amazing to me that this review neglects the strong pro-euthanasia statement of this movie. The choice to euthanize in this movie is mostly Hana’s (probably a CHRISTIAN), NOT Lazlow’s (the athiest). This movie is a politically correct evil of the times. I’m amazed you didn’t catch it.
—Ian Ferrin, age 39
Another typical Academy Award winner! The godless, immoral and humanistic Hollywood elite gather to honor and praise themselves and continue their assualt on traditional Judeo-Christian values by promoting such films as this. It’s time for all who claim to follow Jesus Christ to boycott Hollywood. Do you think Jesus approves of this movie ? Of course not. If he went to see it, he would walk out disgusted in the first five minutes. Come on, Christians, let’s stop supporting this trash with our ticket sales and start watching Jesus instead!
—David Johnston, age 36
It is fascinating, dramatic, alluring, well-scripted and well-photographed. But “The English Patient” is also a disappointment. Only, but significantly, from a Christian world-view. The movie was so well done that the viewer can easily be drawn into the illusion of the glorification of suicide and adultery. The redeeming quality in this regard was the true to life fullfillment of the promise that sin does lead to ultimate destruction and death…
—Neil Farrell