When directing 'The Talented Mr Ripley', Minghella was careful to capture the unique quality of the novel, while also being conscious of adding his own take to the film. In order to achieve this, Minghella read the original novel many times. He then put the novel down, and did not look at it at all while writing the script and directing. Minghella explained that his goal was not to appropriate the book and put the dialogue in quotes, rather, he wanted to creatively re-imagine the book as a film. In doing so, Minghella made a few changes to the original book to make it more dynamic on screen. For example, Peter is a very minor character in the book, but a major character in the film. In this way, re-imagining and re-interpretation are large ways Minghella goes about creating a film based on original material.
A key aspect that Minghella wanted to create in the film is a sense of empathy for Tom Ripley. Over-the-shoulder shots show us the world unfolding through Tom's eyes, while the 'Dark basement' soliloquy emphasises Tom's tortured mindset. This is very effective, as it causes the viewer to connect with Tom, and thus, have a greater understanding of humanity and the human condition.
Minghella's original interpretation of the novel also greatly shapes the direction of the film. He views it as a story that shows what happens when an individual loses faith in themself and will do anything to invent a new identity, even if it involves destroying themself or others in the process. This is clearly evident in the film's tagline - "It's better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody."
Minghella also collaborated with the composer Gabriel Yared to compose an original lullaby that Ripley plays at the very beginning of the film. He intended for this song to sound quite tribal, emphasising ideas related to the baseness of the human condition, such as violence, anger and mourning.