Study Guide

The English Patient Production Design

Production Design

Sensory Overload

The English Patient might be one of the most sensual films ever made. Love isn't something you just feel in your heart. You see it, smell it, taste it, hear it, and touch it. All of the senses combine in this movie.

The lush cinematography sweeps over the desert, letting us see the shifting dunes and the Cave of Swimmers, which resides in "a mountain the shape of a woman's back." Katharine's thimble is filled with saffron, a fragrant spice. The film is filled with many close-ups of hands, hands touching rocks, hands touching skin, hands without thumbs. (Sorry, Caravaggio.)

Even morphine addiction is given a sentimental touch as Almásy says he has "come to love the little tap of the fingernail against the syringe. Tap. Tap. Tap." Sounds often bring back memories for Almásy, including the sound of Hana playing hopscotch outside.

Finally, the film even lets us experience taste, like when Hana feeds Almásy a plum. "It's a… It's a very plum plum," he says, because tastes can be so hard to describe. Feelings and senses are, in general, hard to describe… which is why the movie shows them to us instead of trying to put them into words.

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