Sunday, 22 August 2010

“It’s Raining!”

This entry is part of the blogathon on moments in the rain, cinematically.
As soon as Jose suggested the idea for this semi-blogathon my mind went to Juliette Binoche. It’s probably because I’m in all types of love with The English Patient, but it’s always the first film that comes to mind when I think of rain and movies. It’s a tad ironic considering that at least half of the film takes place in the sweltering desert. I’ll be reviewing The English Patient sometime soon, it’s a rather dismal tale at times but somewhere, three-quarter way through the epic, the eponymous patient who’s severely burnt yearns for rain on his face. As fate would have it, the rain comes and as we listen to Ella Fitzgerald croon and as Naveen Andrews, Kevin Whatley and Willem Defoe cart the immobile Ralph Fiennes around the fountain and the jovial Juliette Binoche tags along just to be silly it makes you forget that we’re watching an Anthony Minghella tragedy…
The scene in question occurs midway through the film, even though – if pushed – I’ll single out the desert portion as my favourite of the film this portion that I adore takes place in the Monastery. It’s just after one of the film’s symbolic climaxes; Naveen Andrews’ Kip is called to defuse a bomb that – literally – has his name written in the serial number. Hana (Juliette Binoche) has a bad feeling about the day and bicycles down to the well. The bomb is defused just as the news reaches Italy – the war is over. It’s over the embrace of Kip and Hana (before the rain) that “Cheek to Cheek” begins to play. 
I’ve never heard the song without thinking of the rain since…and Ella's version is the best.
We get a beautiful shot of the dark sky.
Then we cut to Juliette, in her same nondescript house drench – drenched in rain – but still beautiful.

HANA: It’s raining.
It’s the only dialogue in this scene, the chapter in the DVD is titled just that – “It’s Raining”. Immediately after the line she laughs like a silly schoolgirl – which, trained Nurse or not, Hana is like many times. To offer some perspective, she’s taking care of eponymous Patient – Ralph Fiennes. His body is thoroughly burned and he’s bedridden and after being found in the desert by some Arabs he’s been moved to the Monastery with Hana watching over. Earlier in the film he tells us that he longs to feel the rain on his face…he gets his wish.

The rain is so obviously a thing of cleansing – so many of the posts have touched on that. It’s the single moment of complete abandon in the film, Kip’s eventual departure, the Patient’s potential death, Carravgio’s thievery and missing thumbs – none are of consequence at the moment. The war is over and the rain is falling. There’s really nothing to do but take the patient out and run around the fountain.
Theoretically, nothing is added in this scene. No new ground is travelled, no new depth is found – but that’s the point, I think. The English Patient is drowned in it’s pathos. In fact another scene of rain – well, raining sand – is almost indicative of the film itself as Almasy (the Patient before) and Katherine is almost drowned in a sand storm. But, in italy, when the storm comes – of water – it’s not dangerous. Like the sandstorm, though, it does bring our characters a little closer. It’s not a seismic event but something as transient as rain and the fun to be had in it can be important. It’s immediately after this scene that we’re pitched back into the bleakness of reality. One of the very characters dies a few hours later, but none of that matters in the rain. There is no logic as the three men lift the patient around the fountain, there’s no sense in Hana carrying an umbrella that serves no purpose…but it’s beautiful to watch, John Seale's cinematography is just lush and as the song says – “and the cares that hung around me through the week, seem to vanish like a gambler’s lucky streak” but only for a moment though.
Still, whenever I think of rain I think of the 4 minutes in The English Patient when reason was eroded for the pure abandon of a few drops of rain.

(I’ll post the full list of Wet Entries tomorrow morning.)


Jose said...

Every time you bring this movie up I want to give it a third chance. I've been so bored with it the first two times haha but you make it sound so lovely.
Still Binoche is nothing but exquisite in it.

Darren said...

Well done putting all this together and thanks for the invite to take part. Great choice, by the by. I like how very few of the "expected" choices seem to be coming up from what I've seen.

joe burns said...

Interesting....... I like The English Patient a lot.

Jess said...

I've still never seen it. Can barely tell you what it's about. I know, sad. My only excuse is that it came out at a time I wasn't paying attention to movies.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

jose exquisite indeed. i'm really sorry you don't like it. i'm one of the lone people who seem to like it, the amount of times i've heard "worst best picture win" - and considering the crap that's won that's just harsh.

darren what WERE you expecting??

joe you and me both.

jess i'd say go watch it now, i'll be featuring a few times next two weeks.

The Floating Red Couch said...

I was positive you'd be the one to do Titanic. :)