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Captain Corelli's Mandolin...

Movie Review: Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Penelope Cruz, John Hunt, Christian Bale
Director: John Madden

Captain Corelli's Mandolin is a love story set during World War II on the Island of Cephalonia in Greece. The movie opens up quietly, taking us into a peaceful fishing village, a religious ceremony, and a festival. John Hurt plays Dr. Iannis, one of the village elders and a source of wisdom in the movie. He has a daughter named Pelagia (Penelope Cruz) who he has been training in the art of medicine. Pelagia falls in love with a young fisherman named Mandras (Christian Bale) and they become betrothed in spite of Dr.

Iannis's warnings to Pelagia that Mandras was not her equal. Then the events of World War II sweep through Greece. Mandras and many other men from the village leave to join the Greek army. Pelagia sends him letter after letter with no response and gradually despairs of ever seeing him again. Then news reaches them of how the Greeks managed to beat back the armies of Italy in Macedonia but failed to withstand against the German reinforcements coming to aid their allies. Cephalonia and much of Greece is now under Italian occupation and as the Italian armies march through the streets, Pelagia catches the eye of one Captain Antonio Corelli played by Nicolas Cage.

Captain Corelli and the artillery company seem to have been conscripted from an Italian opera company. They fulfill their duties with a kind of Bohemian resignation, doing what they have to do out of loyalty but filling the rest of the time by living as vigorously as possible - making music, singing, dancing, and carousing. Through an arrangement made by Dr. Iannis with an Italian quartermaster, Captain Corelli ends up staying with Dr. Iannis and Pelagia and reveals himself to be a talented musician, an intelligent and

sensitive man, and a good foil for Pelagia. Corelli and Pelagia's relationship is first antagonistic, then cautious, and finally romantic.
But their love is complicated first by the problems with the Italian occupation as the Greeks feel that they should not be occupied by an army that they had defeated and there is much tension between the two groups as a result. Then Mandras returns and discovers that not only has Pelagia fallen out of love with him but is consorting with someone that he considers an enemy. The rest of the events that follow play themselves out in ways both familiar and unexpected, both joyful and sad. The movie ends circularly, like Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai, with the

people of the village continuing their cycle of life as they had for hundreds of years before - with a festival, a religious ceremony, and with our leaving that village accompanied by some historical footnotes that verify the events discussed by the movie.
The movie is based on the book, Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres. The story must have translated well to screen because

Captain Corelli's Mandolin is a remarkably good love story set against a historical backdrop. It is a quiet movie in the sense that the characters and events are not of epic quality. The occupation of Cephalonia by the Italians and then the Germans are well documented but of not strategic or historical importance to World War II. The characters feel very real but none of them will be found in any history books in all likelihood. Finally, there weren't any clever tricks on the part of the director or the screenwriter to give these events more credibility by sneaking in useless and irrelevant historical tidbits as happened in the movies Titanic and Pearl Harbor.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin will appeal to those who are looking for a good love story and/ or an intelligent

and well-written movie.


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