LONDON — Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella, who turned such literary works as The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain into acclaimed movies, died Tuesday of a hemorrhage after surgery. He was 54.
Mr. Minghella's publicist, Jonathan Rutter, said the filmmaker died at London's Charing Cross Hospital. He said Mr. Minghella was operated on last week for a growth in his neck and the operation seemed to have gone well.
"At 5 a.m. today (9 a.m. Tuesday EDT) he had a fatal hemorrhage," Rutter said.
Jude Law, who starred in Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr. Ripley and 2007's Breaking and Entering, said he had come to value Mr. Minghella more as a friend than as a colleague.
"He was a brilliantly talented writer and director who wrote dialogue that was a joy to speak and then put it onto the screen in a way that always looked effortless," Law said. "He made work feel like fun."
Mr. Minghella is survived by his wife, Carolyn Choa; his actor son, Max Minghella; and his daughter, Hannah.
The 1996 World War II drama The English Patient won nine Academy Awards, including best picture, best director for Mr. Minghella and best supporting actress for Juliette Binoche. Based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje, the movie tells of a burn victim's tortured recollections of his misdeeds in wartime.
In a 1996 interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Minghella said too many modern films let the audience be passive, as if they were saying, "We're going to rock you and thrill you. We'll do everything for you."
"(The English Patient) goes absolutely against that grain," he said. "It says, 'I'm sorry, but you're going to have to make some connections. There are some puzzles here. The story will constantly rethread itself, and it will be elliptical, but there are enormous rewards in that.' "
He was recently in Botswana filming an adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith's novel The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.
Due to air on British TV this week, the book is the first in a series about the adventures of Botswanan private eye Precious Ramotswe; a 13-part series was recently commissioned by HBO.