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RIP Anthony Minghella (Updated)

March 18, 2008

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This one is sad, and a little scary. Anthony Minghella, a director specializing in literary adaptations whose elegant, classical style tended to land him Oscar territory with films like Cold Mountain, The English Patient and, by far my favorite of his films, the somewhat underrated The Talented Mr. Ripley, had died at age 54. According to his AP obituary, Minghella died of a hemorrhage following an apparently successful surgery for a “growth” on his neck. [UPDATE I: A a prepositional error here on my part. The growth, possibly a cancerous tonsil was “in” his neck, according to the AP, not “on” it, which renders some of my comments below a bit more ridiculously self-involved than they were to begin with. My only defense is that, without editors, we bloggers are free to say unintelligent stuff. For more on the possible cause of death, see the second update below.]

Aside from losing a major talent who devoted his career to achieving the kind of quality mainstream films that increasingly only roll out towards the end of the year, a noble calling even if we cinephiles tend to diminish the Minghellas of the world for not being stylistically iconoclastic enough for our tastes, it’s scary because of its apparent randomness. We’re almost used to these things when a disease, including addiction, is involved, but as far as I know Minghella was a perfectly healthy guy. He certainly looks that way in the recent picture above. All I can imagine is that the growth must have been dangerously close to a major artery, which explains why it sounds as if he was still hospitalized when the hemorrhage occurred.

(This comes slightly close to home for this mild hypochondriac — two weeks ago I had a very small growth removed from the back of my neck, but fortunately very simple outpatient stuff using a topical anesthetic and not close to anything important…but still.)

Anyhow, another reminder of the fragility of life and the loss of an apparently very good man from the world, who, whatever the results, tried very hard to make only good movies and as far as I know never made a bad one.

H/t Greencine.

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UPDATE II: Of course, there’s much more that’s been written since I first posted this this morning.

Brian Doan has a really perceptive appreciation of Minghella’s approach posted.

Brian also steered toward Glenn Kenny, who brings up some disturbing irony in regards to his Truly, Madly, Deeply, which I haven’t seen. Mr. Kenny, in turn, steered me toward Jeffrey Wells, who paints a picture of Minghella as a gentle, thoughtful soul who was (and this is an understatement) unusually receptive to criticism and was therefore either a masochist or, and this would be genuinely weird in any creative profession, the bearer of a healthy ego. He also gives us some details about the operation that preceded his death, which was not the removal of an external growth, but the removal of cancerous tonsils, which sounds like a pretty ordinary operation, cancer aside.

Wells also points out that Minghella’s producing partner was Sidney Pollack, which somehow makes it a little sadder. Appropos of nothing, the director’s son, Max Minghella, was also the star of Dan Clowes’s and Terry Zwigoff’s Art School Confidential.

From → entertainment

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