66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Zorba the Greek [VHS] (VHS Tape)Something is definitely wrong with this picture!! Where is Criterion, or some other company that is neglecting one of the greatest movies of the 20th C?
Cacoyannis assembled one of the most sublime international casts ever in this classic. Few movies can approach great literature as far as providing a microcosm of "the human condtition," to use an overworked, but apt phrase. This is one of the few that can. The plot, which is secondary to the theme, revolves around the wizened, but still vibrant Greek peasant Zorba (Quinn) teaching the young, uptight, sexually confused (OK, maybe that's not PC of me, but it's certainly the subtext) Brit mine-owner "boss" Basil (Alan Bates), about the facts of life.
Zorba is one of the great lovable rogues of cinema history, maybe even the most memorable. Wine, women, song and dance are his credo, and we come to learn that they are his defense against some personal tragedy in his background. This film is unmatched in terms of playing the comic against the tragic, the many facets of life that color actual existence, as opposed to the usual Hollywood, one dimensional perspectives. There are layers within layers to the message here, just as in great fiction or theater. What it boils down to, however, is about friendship. Zorba and Basil go through so much together, running the full gamut of human emotions, that by the perfectly realized ending (the best I can recall in recent or distant memory, outside of Fellini's La Strada maybe [another Quinn movie, incidentally]), this viewer was breaking down in sheer joy/release/catharsis. The Greeks have long had a knack for this, have you noticed?
As a footnote, the soundtrack is also legendary, thanks to Greece's most noted score composer, Mikis Theadorakis. I'm not going to gripe here, but how did Alan Bates pass on without an Oscar on his mantle? This was essentially Cacoyannis' and Quinn's project, however, and they should live on in every film buff's memory for ages to come for this masterpiece on both their parts. Irene Papas, as a widow who shoots some of the most unforgettable darting glances in film history, and Lila Kedrova as the sad, but ever hopeful Madame Hortense, are also highly memorable. And where did Cacoyannis find those old, withered, diminuitive, toothless harpies that hung about the bedside like vultures gathering for a feast?
Do what you can to re-view this true classic on VHS while we hope and pray that the eventual DVD treatment will be of worthy quality.
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Initial post: Feb 20, 2008 11:58:07 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 20, 2008 12:02:29 PM PST
Rufus Quail says:
I saw this movie with a different girlfriend at a walkin theatre in San Diego (since torn down of course). I have enjoyed the movie again several times over the years. This and Fellini movie really put Quinn on the list of all-time greats. (I'll think of the Fellini move in a minute). --It's La Strada. Don't pay attention to anyone who pans La Strada. It's delightful.
In reply to an earlier post on May 5, 2008 3:31:07 PM PDT
Bruce Kendall says:
It's one of my faves, too.
Fellini's wife, Giulietta Masina, was also superb, as she was in all her films.
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