The English Patient

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We are the real countries, not the boundaries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men.

The English Patient is a 1996 film taking place near the end of WWII. A young nurse tends to a badly-burned plane crash victim. His past is shown in flashbacks, revealing an involvement in a fateful love affair.

Directed and written by Anthony Minghella. Based on the 1993 novel The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.
In love, there are no boundaries. (taglines)

Count Laszlo de Almásy

  • I think I was a pilot.
  • A very...plum...plum.
  • Its probably none of my business - your you think it is appropriate to leave her?
  • [to Katherine] I once traveled with a guide who was taking me to Faya. He didn't speak for nine hours. At the end of it he pointed to the horizon and said, Faya! That was a good day.
  • [to Katherine] There's really no need. This is just a scrapbook. They are too good. I should feel obliged. Thank you.
  • [to Katherine] We planned badly.
  • [to Katherine] In a few minutes there'll be no stars - the air is filling with sand.
  • [to Katherine] I apologize if I appear abrupt. I am rusty at social graces.
  • [to Katherine] Let me tell you about winds. [to Katharine]
  • [to Katherine] Could I ask you, please, to paste your paintings into my book? I should like to have them. I should be honored.
  • [to Katherine] Mrs. Clifton...I believe you still have my book.
  • K at dawn - silhouetted.
  • [to himself in the Cave of Swimmers] My God...they're swimming. Swimming.
  • [to Katherine] I can still taste you. I try to write with your taste in my mouth.
  • [to Katherine] Swoon, They'll catch you.
  • [to Katherine] Maddox knows I think - he keeps talking about Anna Karenina - I think it's his idea of a man to man chat...well it's my idea of a man to man chat.
  • [to Hana] I long for the rain on my face.
  • [to Katherine] I'm not agreeing. Don't think I'm agreeing, because I'm not.
  • [upon seeing Katherine in the plane wreckage] Katherine? My God, Katherine what are you doing here?
  • [to Caravaggio] Thousands of people did die. Just different people.
  • [to Caravaggio] No...I was never a spy. [to Caravaggio]
  • The International Sand Club: misfits, buggers, fascists, and fools - God bless us every one. Oops! mustn't say international - dirty word, filthy word.
  • [to Katherine] Every night I cut out my heart. But in the morning it was full again.
  • [to Hana] K is for Katherine.
  • [to Hana] In that case, I suppose we can't charge.
  • [to Hana] Condensed milk - one of the truly great inventions.
  • [to Kip] Hana was just telling me that you were her cooking.
  • [to Caravaggio] I have come to love that little tap of the fingernail against the syringe. Tap...Tap...Tap.
  • [singing the tune of "It's Only a Paper Moon" (by Harold Arlen, Billy Rose, and E.Y. Harburg)] It wouldn't be make believe if you believed in me.
  • [last words; to Hana] Read to me will you? Read me to sleep.


  • I must be a curse. Anybody who loves me, anybody who gets close to me...or I must be cursed. Which is it?
  • [to Almásy] It's raining.
  • There's a war. Where you come from becomes important.
  • [reading Almásy's note on the Christmas firecracker] Dec. 22nd [1938] - Betrayals during war are childlike compared with our betrayals during peace. New lovers are nervous and tender, but smash everything. For the heart is an organ of fire. For the heart is an organ of fire - I love that. I believe that.

Katharine Clifton

  • [to Almásy] I've been thinking - how does someone like you decide to come to the desert?
  • [to Almásy] And that would be unconscionable, I suppose, to feel any obligation? Yes. Of course it would.
  • I'm not one of the walking wounded. It's only one night. Besides, if I remain it's the most effective method of persuading my husband to abandon whatever he's doing and come and rescue us.
  • [to Almásy] This is not very good is it?
  • [to Almásy] Am I a terrible coward to ask how much water we have?
  • [to Almásy] Yes is a comfort. Absolutely is not.
  • [to Almásy] You still have sand in your hair.
  • [to Almásy] A woman should never learn to sew, and if she can she shouldn't admit to it.
  • [to Almásy] This a different world is what I tell myself; a different life. And here, I'm a different wife.
  • [reading from the notes she found in Almásy's book] The neck of K can never be something, not in my mind. And K's clothes always at ease on her. Does he notice? What is the significance of Betrayal? Does K bother with a moral Labyrinth - K's debate - does she debate?
  • [to Almásy] Am I 'K' in your book? I think I must be.
  • [to Almásy] You speak so many bloody languages, and you never want to talk.
  • [to Almásy] I can't do this anymore.
  • [to Almásy] Do you think you are the only one who feels anything? Is that what you think?
  • [to Almásy] Why did you hate me? Don't you know you drove everybody mad?
  • [written in journal] My darling, I'm waiting for you. How long is a day in the dark? Or a week? The fire is gone now, and I'm horribly cold. I really ought to drag myself outside but then there'd be the sun...I'm afraid I waste the light on the paintings and on writing these words. We die. We die rich with lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have entered and swum up like rivers, fears we've hidden in, like this wretched cave. I want all this marked on my body. We're the real countries. Not the boundaries drawn on maps, the names of powerful men. I know you will come carry me out into the palace of winds. That's all I've wanted, to walk in such a place with you, with friends. An earth without maps. The lamp's gone out, and I'm writing in the darkness.

David Caravaggio

  • [to Almásy] So. I come across the hospital convoy, I'm looking for this stuff. This nurse, Mary, tells me about you and Hana, hiding in some monastery, in what you call it - retreat - how you'd come in from the desert and you were burned and you didn't remember your name, but you knew the words to every song that ever was and you had one possession - a copy of Herodotus and it was filled with letters and cuttings, and then I know it was you...I'd seen you writing in that book. At the embassy in Cairo, when I had thumbs, and you had a face. And a name.
  • In Italy, there's always chickens, but no eggs. In Africa there's eggs, but never chickens. Who separated them?
  • [to Hana] Ask him. Ask your saint who he is. Ask him who he's killed.
  • [to Almásy] There was a result to what you did!

Kirpal Singh (Kip)

  • [to Hana after playing the piano] Look. See? Move that - and no more Bach.
  • [reading from Kipling to Almásy] It's still there, the cannon, outside the museum. It was made of metal cups and bowls taken from every household in the city as tax, then melted down. Then later they fired the cannon at my people - comma - The natives - full stop.
  • [to Almásy] What I really object to, Uncle, is your finishing all my condensed milk - and the message everywhere in your book - however slowly I read it - that the best destiny for India is to be ruled by the British.
  • [to Hana] This is what I do. I do this every day.

Geoffrey Clifton

  • [to Almásy,] Why are you people so threatened by a woman?
  • [to Madox] I'm going to surprise her. It's our anniversary. She's forgotten, of course.


  • In case you're still wondering, This is called a supersternal notch. points to notch at base of throat [to Almasy]
  • I have to teach myself not to read too much into everything. It comes from too long having to read so much into hardly anything at all.
  • (?) It's ghastly. It's a witchhunt. Anyone remotely foreign is suddenly a spy.
  • We didn't care about countries, did we? Brits, Arabs, Hungarians, Germans... None of that mattered, did it? It was something finer than that.


Bermann: How do you explain… to someone who's never been here… feelings that seem quite natural?
British officer: (verify) How do you know you're not German if you don't remember anything?


Katharine: Shall we be all right?
Almásy: Yes. Yes. —Absolutely.
Katharine: 'Yes' is a comfort. 'Absolutely' is not.

Caravaggio: You get to the morning and the poison leaks away, doesn't it? Black nights. I thought I would kill you.
Almásy: You can't kill me. I died years ago.
Caravaggio: No, I can't kill you now.

Caravaggio: You're in love with him, aren't you? Your poor patient. You think he's a saint because of the way he looks?
Hana: I don't think he is. I'm not so in love with him. I'm in love with ghosts. And so is he. He's in love with ghosts.
Caravaggio: I'm one of his ghosts and he wouldn't even know.

Katharine: Why did you hate me?
Almásy: What?
Katharine: Don't you know you drove everybody mad?
Almásy: Shh, don't talk.
Katharine: You speak so many bloody languages and you never wanted to talk.
Almásy: You're wearing the thimble.
Katharine: Of course, you idiot. I always wear it; I've always worn it... I've always loved you.

Hana: I'll probably marry him.
Almásy: Really? That's sudden.
Hana: My mother always told me I would summon my husband by playing the piano.

Hana: Then I tell myself he spends all day searching, in the night he wants to be found.
Kip: I do. I do want you to find me! I do want to be found.

Almásy: There's also a plant - I've never seen it but I'm told you can cut a piece the size of a heart from this plant and the next day it will be filled with a delicious liquid.
Katharine: Find that plant. Cut out its heart.

Katharine: Geoffrey's not in Cairo. He's not actually a buffoon. The plane wasn't a wedding present. It belongs to the British Government. They want aerial maps of the whole of North Africa. So I think he's in Ethiopia. In case you were counting on his sudden appearance.
Almásy: And the marriage. . . is that a fiction?
Katharine: No, the marriage isn't a fiction.

Almásy: When were you most happy?
Katharine: Now.
Almásy: When were you least happy?
Katharine: Now.
Almásy: What do you love?
Katharine: What do I love?
Almásy: Say everything.
Katharine: Water—fish in it—and hedgehogs—I love hedgehogs. Marmite—I'm addicted, and baths, but not with other people! Islands—and your handwriting. I could go on all day.
Almásy: Go on all day.
Katharine: My husband.
Almásy: And what do you hate most?
Katharine: A lie. And what do you hate most?
Almásy: Ownership—or being owned. When you leave, you should forget me.

Almásy: Szerelem means love. And the story, well, there's this Hungarian count. He's a wanderer. He's a fool. And for years he's on some kind of a quest for... who knows what. And then one day, he falls under the spell of a mysterious English woman. A harpy, who beats him, and hits him, he becomes her slave, and he sews her clothes, and worships—Stop it! Stop it! You're always beating me!
Katharine: Bastard! You bastard, I believed you! You should be my slave.

Almásy: This... this, the hollow at the base of a woman's throat, does it have an official name?
Madox: Good God, man, pull yourself together.

Almásy: I just wanted you to know— I'm not missing you yet.
Katharine: You will.

Almásy: You're wearing the thimble.
Katharine: Of course. You idiot. I always wear it. I've always worn it. I've always loved you.

Muller: [interrogating Caravaggio] Look here, for every name you give me, I'll let you keep a finger. You give me something, and you'll keep something.
Caravaggio: Don't cut me.
Muller: Are thumbs fingers? [to Lieutenant]
Muller: Ist ein Daumen ein Finger?
Interrogation Room Soldier: [phone rings] Telefon.
Muller: I'm sick of this room. I'm sick of this heat! And I'm sick of this damn telephone!

[hangs it up]

Almásy: There is no God... but I hope someone looks after you.
Madox: Just in case you're interested, it's called the suprasternal notch. Come and visit us in Dorset when all this nonsense is over. [Heads away but turns back]
Madox: You'll never come to Dorset.

Officer: May I see your papers sir?
Almásy: I'm sorry, I'm not making sense— forgive me— I, I'm—I've been walking, and I've-there's a woman badly injured at the Gilf Kebir,—the Cave of Swimmers. I'm a member of the Royal Geographical Society.
Officer: Could you spell your name sir?
Almásy: I have been walking for three days, I do not want to spell my name!


  • In love, there are no boundaries.
  • In memory, love lives forever.


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