Thursday, March 20, 2008

Breaking, Entering, Exiting

Bad news has not stopped coming. First Arthur C Clarke, and now the news of Anthony Minghella's death. He was only 54. The Oscar-winning film director and until recently chairman of the British Film Institute, died on Tuesday, after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

I loved Minghella's films. In fact, among the contemporary British filmmakers (working in Hollywood, the ones that I know of) Minghella and Sam Mendes have been my favourites. I thought very highly of some of his works, especially The English Patient, The Talented Mr Ripley, and Breaking and Entering. The last one remains vivid in my memory as I had seen it only a few months ago. There are very few filmmakers who make 'that' kind of films. He was still young. Did he deserve to go so soon? Reminded me of the sudden death of director Mukul Anand in India--he too was young and much was expected of him (mind you, I am talking about two different kind of filmmakers in totally different settings).

Here's a tribute by Ken Russell, film director:

I grew up on Minghella's dad's ice-cream in Ryde, Isle of Wight, a scoop each of chocolate and strawberry. A writer himself, he was great at adapting bestsellers. Minghella was keen to the poetry in a story. He wove spells by referencing Herodotus, Neruda, cello-playing, extravagant winds that one fought with knives and swords - as hopeless as fighting passion with social rules. “The palace of winds,” the hollow at the base of a woman's neck (The English Patient); the moments like “a bag of diamonds in a black heart” (Cold Mountain) - all of these evoked mystery, desperate longing and romance, of which he was the undisputed master.

He was the best at showing exotic locations, romantic times, glamorous lovers separated and frustrated by unavailability, guilt, war, long distance or death. He let us into a world of deep shadows and powerful passions overcoming refinement and education, an artist's world where the dialogue and location were turn-ons: Rome, Greece, Venice, the Sahara. He was the king of poetic lust...


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