Cage's Mediterranean Cruz
Adapted from Louis de Bernieres novel "Captain Corelli's Mandolin", the big screen version lacks some of the grittiness and imagery which the book uses to its full advantage but it is still a wonderfully moving movie which focuses on the romance between Pelagia and Corelli. If you haven't read the book, then the movie is indeed very compelling, but for those who have read the book it is a little bit of a let down.
Dr. Iannis (John Hurt) and his beautiful daughter Pelagia (Penélope Cruz - Noel) live and work on the beautiful Greek isle of Kefallonia. Pelagia is in love with handsome fisherman Mandras (Christian Bale - Little Women) who is eager to prove his worth in the war against the Germans and Italians. He sets off too fight the enemy but after he leaves the island is captured by the Italian forces. As expected, they are met with a lot of hatred, but the Italians show a compassionate side, especially Captain Antonio Corelli (Nicolas Cage - The Family Man), and through their passion for life they start to gain acceptance.
The main stars of "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" are Penelope Cruz and Nicholas Cage, but there are huge supporting performances from John Hurt and Christian Bale. Nicholas Cage plays the music loving Captain Corelli, who has a huge passion for opera and also his mandolin. We are treated to numerous operatic renditions of Puccini from Corelli and his army colleagues as well as some truly beautiful mandolin pieces. Cage's performance as Corelli is one of his best; he delivers each scene with perfect sentiment even when the script gives him some very over the top romantic lines.
Penelope Cruz plays the beautiful Pelagia, a very strong willed woman who finds herself in a difficult situation when she falls in love with Corelli, but also having feelings for Mandras. Cruz is not only captivating for her looks but also the emotion and sentiment that she displays in her scenes. John Hurt is magnificent as Pelagia's father, who although loves the traditions of his beautiful island, he accepts that things change and he has to embrace them. Christian Bale delivers a great performance as Mandras, who realizes that Pelagia has fallen for Corelli and although it hurts, he would still do anything to make her happy.
Directed by John Madden, who previously directed the equally good "Shakespeare in Love". Madden has done an excellent job at creating a very good romantic film which could have quite easily become to sickly. As well as displaying the romantic side of the film, he has also done a reasonable job of displaying the travesty of war, without making the film overly dark and depressing. Along with this, there are some beautiful moments of subtle humour, such as when the Italians are putting on a show by detonating a mine on the beach but get it wrong, with out these light hearted moments the film could have been too serious for a lot of people. Although the film does not demonstrate the power of the original book, I feel Madden has done a good job of what really would have been an impossible task. There is no way that Madden or any other director would have been able to recreate the novel on the big screen.
"Captain Corelli's Mandolin" is shot on the beautiful island of Kefallonia which is really picturesque. The areas of the island they have used seem to be pretty much untouched since the 1940's, which make this film very realistic. Some of the scenes are nearly over taken by the sheer beauty of the landscape.
The original sound track to the movie is provided by Stephen Warbeck who had previously worked on Billy Elliot. The music of the film is very important as it helps to convey the beauty of the island, the growing romance between Pelagia and Corelli, and also the harshness of war. Along with this, there are some very good musical performances of pieces by Puccini, Cottrau, and Verdi, some of which were actually performed by Nicholas Cage. As well as this you get the beautiful mandolin pieces which include the enchanting "Pelagia's Song".
What this all boils down to is that "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" is one of my favourite films of the last few years, purely down to the great storyline, excellent performances, beautiful location, wonderful music and great sentiment (sorry if I'm gushing a bit). It may not be a direct adaptation of the novel, but in its own right is a really beautiful love story. If you have read the novel, I would suggest you don't watch this as you may be disappointed. But if you want a good romantic movie to watch whilst curled up with a bottle of wine and a box of tissues, then this is for you.