When a book has won the Booker Prize and the film that it spawned has taken Oscars, the casual reviewer could be tempted to conclude that almost everything has currently been said on its subject. Getting just revisited the film right after various years of absence, I decided to re-read the book. I don’t keep in mind how a lot of occasions I have read it now: let’s call it quite a few. I have noticed the film at least six instances.
To begin with let it be stated that the film, The English Patient, claims only to be based on Michael Ondaatje’s book. It is a film from the book, not of the book. The distinction is important due to the fact, in spite of the film’s admirable try to recreate the complexity of portion of the novel, the book often went significantly further.
In the book we have characters who have been scarred by war, by a war that none of them specifically wanted to fight. I suppose there are occasional wars exactly where some of the participants want to be active. But here Caravaggio just wanted to remain a thief and thus preserve his thumbs. And who would take more than thieving if he is drafted to fight? Maybe Hana’s father definitely did intend to see out the conflict and restart his previous life. Probably the English Patient, himself, did genuinely want to be English. I doubt it. Or maybe the notion, that of nationality, offered war, was mere irrelevance. It was sides that persons counted.
He definitely had significantly to hide, but from whom? What does it matter what side you claim to be on when it is only ever the innocent who fall victim? This final point is important to the feelings of Kip, the character who only just makes it into the film.
For in the book this Sikh sapper, this bomb disposal specialist, who dangers his own life to guard others, is a complicated anti-colonial thinker. He has a sense of justice that transcends victory, specially when that victory is won at tremendous expense in the lives of those who did not fight.
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