Who Is English Soldier?
The Irony in Film "English Patient"
When I dislike a text, I usually would try to find something else to have me appreciate it rather than to de-evaluate a text, at least to make me feel it is still worthwhile to study it. Responding to Dr. Lin's one question in class: Why do we need to have Hana and Kip in film, I want to focus on film to talk about the ironic parts by juxtaposing Kip and Almasy.
Kip, as far as I know, is a very responsible sapper. When Hardy calls upon him, Kip immediately puts on clothes and wants to leave with Hardy to dispose a mine just found. No matter how Hana tries to stay him, Kip, somehow, only replies, "That's what I do everyday." At this point, I regard him very brave and unselfish and selfless to devote himself to his job. In contrast, Almasy certainly has been presented as a lover Saint, who deeply loves Katherine even after her death and when he is deadly injured and dying. The romance between them two has been emphasized, as if, like my classmate Buck said, this film conveys an idea: "Hail Adultery! Hail Betrayal!" Yes, it becomes very ironic for me to take this viewpoint to see two men's romance in war time.
Almasy betrays his comrade and steals his friend's wife, and he even sells out his own country in order to carry his lover's body back to her hometown as she wished in her last words. It is more ironic that Kip as an Indian, a colonized, almost dies on duty for serving in English troops. However, English patient not only cannot be identified after burns, but also has been regarded as a spy by his countrymen and then dies in committing suicide, and he even once almost dies in a crash not on duty but on "mission commanded by his lover." So, I couldn't help wondering who is supposed to almost die on duty? If the romance is the focus attracts people, I must be always so cynical to criticize it.
In addition, I want to pop out m some other reactions to this film. According to the title and poster of this film, I don't think this film wants to elaborate on romance as much as we receive. So, probably, it is the director's failure to present his idea accurately even though I am not so sure what his ideas exactly are. After I draw myself backward a bit to read this film, I found some elements from original novel has been put into film. Indeed, the romance between Almasy and Katherine must be the main plot, but I found the subplot appeals to me more. At this point, my above writings could be one example. Although I am still wondering how come Juliette Binoche won an oscar of the best supporting actress, I think, the last take on Hana means that she goes out the shadow of her traumatic war experience also through Herodotus' The Histories from English patient. Now she is leaving for a new life, something unknown with adventure and possibilities, with this book. Hence, I interpret it to that English patient's story becomes a reminder for Hana about the meaning of life and her possible further relationships with Kip or some others. So, I think, the ending also conveys the idea about "leaving away from war."