CINEMA: RAPTURE IN THE DUNES

A VOLUPTUOUS ADAPTATION OF MICHAEL ONDAATJE'S PRIZEWINNING NOVEL ABOUT LOVE, WAR AND BETRAYAL

From their green, damp, congested homelands, Europeans come to the North African desert and fall in love--as if into quicksand--with the dry vastness. Like T.E. Lawrence, they are awed by the womanly contours of the great desert dunes. Soon their faces are bronzed, their limbs burnished, their hair bleached, until they are the color of sand. These nomads-by-choice have become the Sahara.

The English Patient, the keenly rapturous film that Anthony Minghella has made of Michael Ondaatje's novel, burrows into these feelings even as it flies above them like a plane full of surveyors. This is a big film, serious and...

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