“There is a strange law, which Walter Murch identified, which is that if you point the camera at someone and you want to see pain, if that’s what you want to see then you will see it, the camera will see it. If I don’t know what I want to see, the camera won’t know what to find. That may sound absurd but I know it to be true. I’ve gone looking for things in a scene, which are elusive and seemingly impossible to dramatize. But I’ve gone looking for them and I’ve found them.”
-Anthony Minghella, Minghella on Minghella
Sometimes an artist creates a work you love so much that he or she just become an integral part of your life, etched in your psyche and on your heart, without your ever even having come into actual contact with the person. That is an artist’s job—to move and in many ways define you—and when you have a true artist, as Anthony Minghella was, they leave an imprint on your life that never fades.
Born to Italian immigrants on the Isle of Wight, Anthony Minghella died suddenly this week at the age of 54. Minghella was a well-known playwright and television writer in England before making his feature film debut with 1990’s tender Truly, Madly, Deeply, and went on to make four other films, among them the Oscar-winning The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Cold Mountain and his last film, the underrated Breaking and Entering. (Minghella had just completed production on his adaptation of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency for the BBC.)
Minghella always stated that he was a writer first and a director second, a fact that came in handy when embarking on the often daunting task of adapting complex, detail-oriented novels into intimate character-driven screenplays. Yet Minghella did so with natural ease. Every one of his films—from the epic love stories set in times of war and turmoil to the candidly-raw relationship dramas—bears the mark of his passion for language and the collaborative vision that drove him from film to film. He was known on set for his patience, kindness and joy—actors and crew gladly worked with him over and over again (Jude Law did so three times; Juliette Binoche and Juliet Stevenson twice)—and all of these qualities somehow seeped into the quiet, gentle beauty of each of his films. Minghella once said, “No journey that you enter into with a fairly open heart isn’t rewarded in some way.” An uncompromising artist to the very end, Minghella’s personal journey on film will live on in our hearts, and on the screen, for years to come.