Released 1996
Duration 160 min
Director Anthony Minghella
Written by Michael Ondaatje (novel), Anthony Minghella (screenplay)
Studio Miramax

The English Patient is an Academy Award-winning film adaptation of the novel by Michael Ondaatje, written and directed by Henson veteran Anthony Minghella. The story focuses on a burn victim (Ralph Fiennes), identified only as the "English patient," who is treated by nurse Hana (Juliette Binoche) in a villa near the end of World War II. His past, as archeologist Count Laszlo de Almásy, is revealed in flashbacks, including his romance with a colleague's wife. Subplots involve Caravaggio (Willem Dafoe), a former intelligent operative who knew Almásy in the past, and Hana's romance with Indian sapper Kip.

For the film's physical effects, Minghella sought out Jim Henson's Creature Shop, based on his experiences with them on The StoryTeller and Living with Dinosaurs. Working from initial make-up designs by Fabrizio Sforza, the Creature Shop provided make-up effects for the film, creating an 11 piece foam prosthetic worn by Ralph Fiennes to depict the map-like burn scars on Count de Almásy's face. White hair was also attached, and silicone ears used. They also supplied false forearms and hands for Caravaggio, whose thumbs have been cut off. The Creature Shop built an animatronic tortoise, who is befriended by Hana in the original script, but the animal was cut from Minghella's final draft and never appeared onscreen.[1]

The film won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Minghella), Best Supporting Actress (Binoche), Best Original Dramatic Music Score, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound. Nominations were given for Best Actor (Fiennes), Best Actress (Kristin Scott Thomas), and Best Writing (Minghella again). The movie also received a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Makeup/Hair, credited to Fabrizio Sforza and Creature Shop artist Nigel Booth.


  • Ralph Fiennes as Count Laszlo de Almásy
  • Juliette Binoche as Hana
  • Willem Dafoe as David Caravaggio
  • Kristin Scott Thomas as Katharine Clifton
  • Naveen Andrews as Kip
  • Colin Firth as Geoffrey Clifton
  • Julian Wadham as Madox
  • Jürgen Prochnow as Major Muller
  • Kevin Whately as Sergeant Hardy
  • Clive Merrison as Fenelon-Barnes
  • Nino Castelnuovo as D'Agostino
  • Hichem Rostom as Fouad
  • Peter Rühring as Bermann
  • Raymond Coulthard as Rupert Douglas

Jim Henson's Creature Shop

Make-up gallery



  1. Bacon, Matt. No Strings Attached. pgs 180-181

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