From Text to Screen: Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient (1996)

Shalaby, Manal 


Both the adapted screenplay and the literary work are con-texts in a mutual relationship of giving and receiving, forming and redefining one another. Thus, literature-to-film adaptation is rather perceived as an intertextual practice, contributing to a dynamic interpretive exchange between the literary and cinematic texts – an exchange in which each text can be enriched, modified or subverted. When Anthony Minghella decided to adapt Michael Ondaatje’s masterpiece The English Patient (1992) to film, he was aware of the inevitable journey that the film had to make from one narrative and semiotic system to another. Ondaatje’s novel derives its importance from its heavy reliance on politics, history, memory and the crucial role they play in forming one’s identity. Minghella keeps the basic elements of the story and uses them to express his own personal view of history, memory and identity. That is why his adaptation of Ondaatje’s novel is considered not only a translation but a new reading that reflects the distinctive characteristics of the audio-visual medium and the cultural and artistic choices of Minghella himself.

Other data

Issue Date 2012
Publisher Ain Shams University
Source Shalaby, Manal. “From Text to Screen: Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient (1996),” Philology: Literature and Linguistics Series. Spec. issue of Pre-Doctoral Researches (2012): 11-33. Print.
Journal Philology: Literature and Linguistics Series 

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