Such sad news today, Anthony Minghella passed away at the very young age of 54.
When 'The English Patient' came out I remember being turned off by Miramax's marketing which painted the film as an epic romance. Then, after a few weeks in release, the marketers created a second tier of ads that painted a much wider picture - war, spy intrigue, romance, betrayal and deception. I had the flu and one afternoon in recovery, I dragged myself to the theatre to check it out. My sickness was soon forgotten and I found myself totally engrossed. I went another three times after that. I've been blogging about theatrical experiences and it was one of my favourites - the score by Gabriel Yared, the John Seale photography, the Walter Murch sound mix (and edit and sound design), the specatular locations and performances and one of the most ambitious and complex film stories I had ever seen.
Anthony Minghella became my favourite filmmaker of the current age.
Whereas my film school mates and other friends were in love with Tarantino, Fincher, Rodriguez and Smith I was inspired by Anthony Minghella. Here was a modern filmmaker who elevated film storytelling to the breadth and depth found in literature. His films went beyond character and plot and delved into bigger questions. Questions of morality, life, love, death and identity. He left us with a precious few feature films: 'Truly, Madly, Deeply', 'The English Patient', 'The Talented Mr Ripley', 'Cold Mountain', and 'Breaking and Entering'. All of which I love dearly.
Minghella had a rich life in the arts outside of the film world and this is one of the reasons he was so artistically successful. He wrote for television, the theatre and radio. His love of music, literature and poetry was plainly evident in his works. I had been kicking around the idea of writing about 'Breaking and Entering' and Minghella's unabashed and enthusiastic love of the metaphor. As a writer he was working far beyond what we normally get in the realm of the movies and I am going to miss him. As a director he was a generous master of the craft, surrounding himself with great artists and giving them a voice and due credit.
What more can I say about it? It's death and we're all heading for its inevitable grasp. What we can do is find comfort in those extraordinary moments of beauty in life and in art. I'm thankful that Anthony Minghella shared so many great moments with us.