The English Patient (Arte): which real historical character appears in the film with nine Oscars?

This Wednesday, December 7, 2022 at 8:55 p.m. Arte is broadcasting the excellent film byAnthony Minghella, The English Patient, a war film but also a romantic film. A 1996 feature film set at the end of World War II when a plane flying over the Sahara Desert is shot down. Severely burned and amnesiac, the pilot is handed over to the Allies. But its condition makes it difficult to transport. Hana (Juliette Binoche, seen recently with François Civil at the cinema), a young nurse, moves into an abandoned monastery in Tuscany with him. The man gradually recovers his memory. He turns out to be the Count of Almasy (Ralph Fiennes, defender of Harry Potter creator JK Rowling). Pilot for the Royal Geographical Society before the war, he then drew up maps of the Sahara. During a mission, he met a couple, Geoffrey and Katharine Clifton (Colin Firth, actor in the series Staircase on Canal+and Kristin ScottThomas, partner of Sergi Lopez in the film Leave), and began an affair with the wife, Katharine…

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The English Patient (Arte): a dream cast for a rain of rewards

As we can see, the main strength of this adventure film lies in its top-of-the-range cast. A casting featuring our national Juliette Binoche, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1997! The film won a total of nine Oscars: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Sound, Best Film Score, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Editing. Phew! We must also add to these awards two BAFTAs (the counterpart of the American Oscars): that of Best Film and Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Juliette Binoche. But one character in the film was not rewarded. It’s about Olrik, a character who really existed.

The English Patient (Arte): Olrik, first a comic book character

In their work Olrik, the unauthorized biography (Editions Fayard), Hubert and Laurent Védrine return to this mysterious character who plays his own role in the film. In fact, and well before appearing in real life in The English Patientit was he who inspired Edgar P. Jacobs for his comic strip Blake and Mortimer. In an interview for the site of GeoHubert Védrine explains: “He is someone who came from northern Europe and who had a rather incredible destiny, being projected into a certain number of events of the time. Less spectacular than what we see in the tape -drawn, but he nevertheless got closer to the middle of high crime, espionage… We haven’t found everything, because this Olrik – we also called him that – passed his time covering up his tracks. Socialite, he worked with both the worst scoundrels and political leaders when he hoped to take advantage of them. Through the life of this man, we tell the story of the 20th century. He was quite close to the Olrik of comics, but certainly more surprising still.” We will not know much more about this strange character. However, Laurent Védrine in turn specifies: “Between 1937 and 1939, there was an episode of the conquest of the Himalayas by the Nazis. Goebbels wanted the Germans to conquer the roof of the world and plant the flag of the Third Reich there. And we know that the true Olrik took part in one of his expeditions. We found photos.” The mystery therefore remains intact!

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The English Patient (Arte): which real historical character appears in the film with nine Oscars?