Having experienced the divisive and cretinous use of national borders as a means of distinguishing people, I can empathize strongly with Count Almásy(Ralph Fiennes) as he struggles to comprehend the idiocy of nationality which is brought to a head by the onset of war. Friends and lovers are separated, sinners who stand under the right flag are canonized and saints with the wrong passport are demonized. It's a unique perspective that is typically overlooked.
In this key scene(48) early in film, the Patient introduces the audience to his perspective while Hana(Juliette Binoche)'s perspective lays down the starting point for her character's journey.
48. INT. THE PATIENT'S ROOM. DAY.**From the screenplay by Anthony Minghella adapted from Michael Ondaatje's novel.
Hana carries in a tray. There's OMELETTE on the plate.
There's a man downstairs. He brought us eggs.
(shows him the omelette)
He might stay.
Why? Can he lay eggs?
THE PATIENT (brittle)
Why are people always so happy when they collide with someone from the same place? What happened in Montreal when you passed a man in the street - did you invite him to live with you?
He needn't disturb you.
Me? He can't. I'm already disturbed.
He won't disturb us then. I think he's after morphine.
(she's cut the omelette into tiny pieces)
There's a war. Where you come from becomes important. And besides - we're vulnerable here. I keep hearing noises in the night. Voices.
The Patient says nothing. She puts a spoonful of the omelette into his mouth. He grunts.
The English Patient (Book) - Wiki
The English Patient (Film) - Wiki