Study Guide

The English Patient What's Up With the Ending?

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What's Up With the Ending?

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies

Are you feeling a little too happy? Having too many positive thoughts about the world? You should watch The English Patient and bring yourself down to earth a bit. (And by "down to earth," we mean "down to earth in a fiery plane crash.")

The English Patient might have the most tragic ending in all of cinema. Katharine Clifton, who loves water and gardens, dies in a dark barren cave in the middle of a desert. Almásy fails to save to her, but to get her body back he trades maps to the Germans, severely damaging the Allied side in the war. Yeah, that's a downer.

And if you think about it a certain way, the whole movie is an ending. Almásy's life is already over, and the entire film is him coming to terms with his decisions as he teeters on the brink of death. It's eventually too much for him, and he has Hana give him an overdose of morphine.

It's not all sad, though. The final scene of the movie is Hana riding on the back of a truck to rejoin with her medical brigade. The Italian countryside looks lush and green, contrasted with the barren desert of Egypt.

Oh, and Hana is riding in the back with a child. That kid is one of the only children in the movie, which makes this child shorthand for the future of humanity after the war. The film ends on an up-note of hope, and the final shot is of the sun in a clear blue sky.

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