This is a bit like defending the indefensible. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is not a good film, it’s a good book, but not a good film, but, I watch it once or twice a year. Why? Read on to find out why this badly realised film, is a film you must see.
The basic story of the film – Italian soldiers surrender to Germans in Kefalonia and are then slaughtered by their former comrades in arms – this is true. The Nazi’s carried out some very awful deeds in Kefalonia. The love story is wonderful in the book, between an Italian soldier and a local Greek girl, but in the film it’s not just miscast, the tone of the performances are all over the place.
Bale has never been this bad in anything. Cruz, while beautiful is plainly Spanish! Everyone has a go at Nic Cage for his performance in this, he IS pitched wrong early in the movie, but in the later parts he’s actually spot on. The only person who would survive sensible recasting is John Hurt, who is actually quite good in the film.
So, why do you need to see this? And why do I keep watching it? As lame as this sounds, I love the scenery and I holiday in Kefalonia (the greenest of Greek islands) at least once per year. I also holiday in Spain, but Kefalonia is my favourite place in the world and that’s the reason why I watch the film.
Many locals featured as extras in the film and have amusing stories to tell of the Hollywood film crew rolling up at Myrtos beach and then having to build a road so Nic could get his trailer onto the beach. They also laugh that Donkey extras got paid more than human extras. If you owned a donkey you could be onto a nice little earner…
Kefalonia also has other showbiz connections. Famously Simon Pegg tries to go once a year to the Nine Muses hotel in Skala, often bringing his sidekick Nick Frost along. The Chuckle Brothers are also regulars on the Island. John Hurt must have enjoyed the shoot as he bought a house on neighbouring Ithica (of Greek myth fame).
I’ve been going to the island since 2008 and I’m a bore about it, but see the film and enjoy the scenery (there are worse reasons for loving a film).
So, 20 films to go…
Matthew Cooper has written for Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. He was winner of the first ever Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge and the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize. His first short film starred a then unknown Ewan McGregor and was picked up by Channel Four when Matthew was 19 years old. He’s been a script consultant, script writer for hire and filmmaker for hire for over 20 years.