Zorba the Greek Reviews
Basil: Or else?
Zorba: ...he never dares cut the rope and be free.
A solid film centering on two men. One playing it straight, the other a larger than life character who gives this film the right kind of energy every time he is on screen. Well made, with a great soundtrack.
An aimless Englishman, Basil, played by Alan Bates, finds he has a small inheritance on the Greek island of Crete. His joyless existence is disturbed when he meets Zorba, played by Anthony Quinn, a middle aged Greek with a real lust for life. As he discovers the earthy pleasures of Greece, the Englishman finds his view on life changing. Other adventures occur, including the pursuit of love for both men and the construction of crazy contraptions.
Basically, Anthony Quinn owns this film. Every time he is around, I love everything that is going on. His character provides laughs, a sense of adventure, and other endearing qualities that kept me entertained. Plus he's a damn good dancer. The other actors do a solid job in the film as well.
Taking place in Crete, and actually having been filmed there, this is a very good looking film as well. It certainly captures the surroundings quite well, while giving a specific portrayal of this Greek society.
The other great element of this film was its score. I've heard its key tune many times before, but here it is perfectly mixed into the story. As this film mixes some more light-hearted moments with much darker dramatic material, it was great to have a Greek-themed musical vibe running throughout, which helped keep me engaged.
While the film does run a bit long, it still had plenty of well accomplished elements to make it worthwhile.
Basil: I don't want any trouble.
Zorba: Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and *look* for trouble.
Acting/Characters: Anthony Quinn as Zorba is the only reason to even watch this movie. He did an absolutely fantastic job. Were it not for Peter sellers in Dr. Strangelove, I would be perfectly alright with giving Best Actor to him (I to this day am still trying to find out why on earth they gave it to Rex Harrison that year). But he is the only remotely interesting character in the film. I just didn't care about anyone else. I was never really given any reason to to be honest. There was one other character who was interesting to watch and that was the town idiot. There was actually a character whom annoyed me to the point where I didn't care about her fate (Incidentally it was an Oscar winning performance). Maybe that was the point if so, bravo. I only really cared about Zorba. He was a lot of fun to watch. 5/10
Plot: Like the rest of the movie, I just didn't care. I felt like I should care but I didn't. I know that this is an Oscar winning film and that it is culturally important but yeah. Meh. The plot did get really interesting at the end though which I liked a lot. It was kinda too little too late though. But the film didn't need to be nearly as long as it was. And it was almost much longer too. It was kinda too little too late though. 5/10
Screenplay: This was the best part I will say. Zorba had a lot of excellent lines. He was always really interesting to watch and what he would say was always very interesting too. But I don't think that this fully redeemed the film but I dunno. I still liked it. 8/10
Likableness: When Zorba was onscreen it was great. he was a lot of fun to watch. When he wasn't I just didn't care. Maybe I'm being way too hard on this film. I probably am. But I just didn't care. I dunno. Sorry if this is incoherent, a 2:00 AM review isn't the best. 6/10
Final Score: 24/40 60% (M)
TRIVIA TIME: 1. Anthony Quinn had a broken foot during filming, and thus couldn't perform the dance on the beach as scripted, which called for much leaping around. Instead, he did a slow shuffle. Director Mihalis Kakogiannisasked Anthony Quinn what the dance was, and Anthony Quinn made up a name and claimed it was traditional.
2. Simone Signoret was the original choice for Madame Hortense. After filming began, director 'Michael Cacoyannis' realized that she wasn't what he wanted for the part and asked permission from Darryl F. Zanuck to replace her. He agreed and he proposed Bette Davis. 'Michael Cacoyannis' though had Lila Kedrova in mind. Darryl F. Zanuck had no idea who Lila Kedrova was, or how she even looked, but he trusted 'Michael Cacoyannis' very much, so he agreed.
3. The project was turned down by every major studio in town.
4. In the earlier stages of filming, Mihalis Kakogiannis and Anthony Quinn had frequent disagreements as the director felt that his leading actor was being too over-the-top.
5. The original cut was over 3 hours long.
6. Lila Kedrova learned English specially for the film.
7. Such was the interest in an adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis's hugely popular novel, the film was already in the black before it opened.
His character is certainly not one I appreciated much. Then again, Im not fond of intellectuals much. Too detached and idealistic.
Admittedly, however, this was the reason why I loved this film. To me the message to 'relax' and 'just dance' is a bit misleading. I certainly wouldnt want to be like Zorba, throwing people's cash away, cursing and using used ladies, craving just for pleasure. The man is actually pretty damn detestable. Yet there are good sides to him, as there are in well (well, maybe not Hitler).
I nevertheless still love the ending for what it is. The final dance sequence doesnt fix anything, nor help really. But in the end, sometimes we just do need to say opa and dance, life is only so long.... Its a hypocritical film, but still it does teach some valuable lessons... let it be, acting stiff wont make anything easier to swallow.
decent, accoladed movie, but not one i would recommend however.
An Englishman, Basil (played by Alan Bates), is en route to Crete where
he owns a long-disused mine. Along the way he encounters, befriends and
employs Zorba (Anthony Quinn). Once in Crete they set about trying to
get the mine operational. Basil is quite risk averse, studious and
introverted while Zorba is extroverted, gregarious, happy-go-lucky and
lives life to the fullest. Over time, Zorba's zestfulness starts to rub
off on Basil...
Starts slowly but over time the movie starts to accumulate a feel- good
factor, especially when we see Zorba's antics and Basil start to open
However, this is all ruined by two acts of sheer barbarism towards the
end, both committed by the moronic inhabitants of the village. What's
worse, both these acts are just taken as par for the course, and there
is no ultimate justice for these acts. You could understand the
imbecilic villagers feeling that way, but both Basil and Zorba continue
as if nothing had happened. What's more, the first case involves
someone quite dear to Basil.
From the point of the first atrocity, the air goes out of the movie and
this is made worse by the second act. There are some lighter moments in
the last few scenes but these can't repair the damage. What should have
been a light, happy movie, even a comedy of sorts, ends as an uneven
study in the barbaric customs and thinking of primitive people.
You couldn't have to polar opposites on screen but the charm & chemistry of the two is undeniable. Zorba is owned by the performance of Anthony Quinn that is truly once in a lifetime.
It's a film filled with passion (especially the luscious look of the film made by the Cameraman) & the perils of life. It's refreshing & a great study of two people in the unforgettable backdrop of coastal Greece. A must see classic!