Black SplatThe English Patient (1996)

"I get something; you keep something."

The English Patient - Nazi interrogator threatens to cut off a thumb of a spy

Description: The foul request of Nazi interrogator Major Muller (Jurgen Prochnow) in the motion picture The English Patient (1996).

Handcuffed to a wooden table in a dingy Egyptian basement, a Canadian spy named Caravaggio (Willem Defoe)—codename: Moose—is asked to cooperate with his German captors.

“Give me something...a name, a code” asks Muller, “so we can all get out of this room. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. This is your nurse, by the way. She’s Muslim, so she’ll understand all of this. What’s the punishment for adultery? You're married and you were fucking another woman, so that's, uh...Let’s leave it at that. Is it the hands that are cut off? Or is that for stealing? Does anyone know?” “Don‘t cut me!” pleads Caravaggio.

The Nazi continues his threats, “Ten fingers. How ‘bout this? You give me a name for every finger...Are thumbs fingers?” Suddenly, one of the Nazi soldiers reminds the interrogator of the Geneva Convention rules of behavior in wartime, but he refuses to listen and instructs the nurse to cut off the man’s thumbs.

The English Patient - Nurse cuts off a  thumb

Saying anything to stop the butchery, the spy cries, “I’ll give you names. How many names did you say? Let me think. Just let me think, I can’t think. I know them. Please, let me think. I Promise. Please! Please! No! What names did you say? I know them. I can’t think of any names. Not my hands! No! Dear God! Not my hands! No! Dear God! Please don‘t cut me....No! Please!!!...Aggghh!”

A few years later, Caravaggio comes upon a burn-victim ((Ralph Fiennes) in a crumbling Italian villa and tells the man of his quest for justice.

“The man who took my thumbs...I found him eventually. I killed him. The man who took my photograph (pictures that implicated Caravaggio), I found him, too. That took me a year. He’s dead. Another man showed the Germans the way to get their spies into Cairo. I’ve been looking for him.”

Suspecting the burn victim is his third target for revenge, the thumbless man discovers that "The English Patient” is Count László Almásya, a Hungarian cartographer who gave British expedition maps of the region to the Germans for helping him save his lover Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas), who was trapped in the desert. He had only given away the maps after the British refused to help him. Unfortunately, the Count arrived too late to save his lover. She had died alone in the dark of a cave.

Upon hearing the Count’s rationale for giving away the maps, Caravaggio says, “I thought I would kill you.” The dying Almásy says, “You can’t kill me I died years ago.” The thumbless man finishes, “No, I can’t kill you now.”

"My darling. I'm waiting for you. How long is the day in the dark? Or a week? The fire is gone, and I'm horribly cold. I really should drag myself outside but then there'd be the sun. I'm afraid I waste the light on the paintings, not writing these words. We die. We die rich with lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we've entered and swum up like rivers. Fears we've hidden in - like this wretched cave. I want all this marked on my body. Where the real countries are. Not boundaries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men. I know you'll come carry me out to the Palace of Winds. That's what I've wanted: to walk in such a place with you. With friends, on an earth without maps. The lamp has gone out and I'm writing in the darkness." - Katherine Clifton

The English Patient - Movie Poster

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