Photo of Anthony Minghella Anthony Minghella

Anthony Minghella's splendid literary adaptations may make you think he's been directing his entire life, but it took him a few detours to get to the director's chair. Born on the British Isle of Wight on Jan. 6, 1954, he lectured on literature at the University of Hull before he began writing plays in his thirties.

He made his directorial debut until 1991 with Truly, Madly, Deeply and promptly won several international awards for this independent gem. The English Patient (1996), adapted from Michael Ondaatje's novel, won nine of the 13 Oscars for which it was nominated, including Best Picture and Best Director.

His two follow-ups -- The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), based on Patricia Highsmith's thriller, and Cold Mountain (2003), based on Charles Frazier's Civil War drama -- were fairly well received, boasting great casts, smart scripts and beautiful cinematography. Minghella died an early death on March 18, 2008 from complications after a routine surgery. His last completed project was an adaptation of the novel The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.

Anthony Minghella in The English Patient

The English Patient

1996 R

Set against the backdrop of World War II, this Oscar-winning drama stars Ralph Fiennes as a badly burned pilot who recounts a tale of doomed romance to the nurse tending him. As his story spills out via flashback, so do secrets about his identity.

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