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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.