Anthony Minghella CBE


Suggested Films:


Truly Madly, Deeply (1991)
The English Patient (1996)

Made famous for his adaptations and beautiful screenplays Minghella is a director of depth and has the ability to pull you into his films. Whilst some find his work tedious and dull – others are completely swept away by the majesty of some of his projects.

Award winning screenwriter and director Anthony Minghella was born on Isle of Wight on January 6th 1954 - the son of an Italian immigrant. In his early years he often helped his parents in the operation of their ice cream factory, but he dreamed of becoming a writer. He attended the University of Hull as an undergraduate, and subsequently became a professor in literature.

It was here that he began to show his promise as a writer, both of music and plays. It was also here where he met the prominent television playwright Alan Plater, who gave him the first encouragements to write. Following his discussions with Plater, Minghella went on to write many plays for radio, including several that gained awards. His television work was also well received. In addition to contributing regularly to the acclaimed Inspector Morse series, he also wrote all 9 episodes of 'The Storyteller' for Jim Henson. His stage play ‘Made in Bangkok’ won the London Theatre Critics Award for Best New Play.

Minghella's breakthrough in the world of film came in 1991 with ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ a romantic story of love and death starring Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman. Minghella both wrote and directed the film, winning a BAFTA award for best original screenplay. The film is a careful look at death, despair and rebuilding. I suppose it’s a bit like 'Ghost' except with some soul…no pun intended. The two main characters Stevenson and Rickman are excellent in themselves and are well directed. As a nice aside – he married the translator in the film - Carolyn Choa.

Minghella's follow-up, Mr. Wonderful (1993), was his first Hollywood production. A drama starring Matt Dillon, it proved to be a disappointing experience for its director who became very disillusioned with major-studio filmmaking.

Minghella's next project was more successful, both with critics and the general public. ‘The English Patient’ (1996), the Booker-winning novel by the Canadian writer Michael Donate, was packed with visual imagery but presented serious difficulties for anyone trying to convert it to the screen. It was only after producer Saul Zaentz persuaded the independent and more artistically adventurous Miramax to finance the film (the studio eventually provided 26 million dollars of the film's 31-million-dollar cost) that 'The English Patient became a reality'. As screenwriter, Minghella rose triumphantly to the challenge, and as director he received an Academy Award for the film version of The English Patient. The project itself went on to sweep up 9 oscars in total and these were thoroughly deserved. For more details please see the film page of this website.

Minghella remained on somewhat familiar ground for his follow up, a 1999 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’. A lush period thriller set in '50s Italy, it featured cinematography by John Seale, who had earned an Oscar for his work on The English Patient. The film was less successful than his previous offering and engendered much debate amongst critics and the public. Simply put some people think it’s superb and others consider it pretentious rubbish. Oh well you can’t keep everyone happy…

Finally ‘Cold Mountain’ (2003) is one of Minghellas most recent films. Based loosely on the final months of American Civil War it tells a story about one man coming home and the woman who is waiting for him. Jude Law is Inman, who falls in love with Ada Monroe (Kidman) prior to being sent to fight for the South in the American Civil War. When he is seriously injured, Inman is determined to leave the frontline and return home to Cold Mountain. Ada Monroe is battling the freezing winter and it's not until Ruby Thews (Zellweger) comes to her aid that she begins to survive and await the return of Inman.

This film is a visual feast, the cinematography is in parts, breathtaking. Each camera angle adds to the simple message, this is not a story about the American Civil War, this is a story about love. Any person who is after realism will be sorely disappointed. Anthony Minghella was married to choreographer Carolyn Choa, he had two children Minghella was appointed a CBE in the 2001 Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Minghella died on March 18, 2008 of a haemorrhage in Charing Cross Hospital, London, following an operation the previous week to remove cancer of the tonsils and neck. He was 54 years old.













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