CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN
Can Love Survive the Flames of War?
Release Date: August 17, 2001
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz,
John Hurt, Christian Bale,
David Morrissey, & Irene Papas
Genre: Drama/Historical Romance
Audience: Older teenagers & adults
Runtime: 131 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Director: John Madden
Producer: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Kevin
Loader, & Mark Huffam
Writer: Shawn Slovo
Address Comments To:Stacey Snider, Chairman
Ron Meyer, President/COO
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000
Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
Based on a popular novel and true historical facts, CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN is set on Cephallonia, one of the famous Ionian islands off the Mediterranean coast of Greece. Spanish actress Penelope Cruz plays Pelagia, a young woman learning to be a doctor from her father, the village physician (marvelously played by John Hurt). An irreligious but moral man, Dr. Iannis does not think Pelagia’s hearty fiance, Mandras, is equal to his daughter’s intelligence. When the German and Italian fascists land on Cephallonia, Pelagia and her father are forced to billet Captain Antonio Corelli, an Italian soldier played by Nicolas Cage, in their home. Mandras, meanwhile, joins the partisan resistance fighters in the mountains.
As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Captain Corelli is full of love for life, music and Pelagia. Pelagia is at first upset that Corelli can be so happy-go-lucky in such a violent time in European history, but she comes to love him and his passion for living. Pelagia has grown apart from Mandras, who earlier in the movie went off to Albania to fight the Italians. The Greeks were winning that battle until the Germans decided to help their allies.
Inevitably, the war engulfs the idyllic environment of Cephallonia. When the Italians in Rome surrender to the Allies, Captain Corelli and the other Italian soldiers are forced to take sides against the ruthless German fascists, who can’t be trusted. Not only is Antonio’s love for Pelagia endangered, but so is his life and the life of his men.
Directed by Englishman John Madden (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and the MOVIEGUIDE® Award-winning MRS. BROWN), CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN relies on the romantic strength of its lead actors for its power. Madden takes a reserved approach to the material, which doesn’t always serve the passionate story well. Mr. Cage and Miss Cruz hand in fine performances, however. Mr. Cage's accent, however, leaves much to be desired and has been the object of ridicule among critics. They come alive during the more emotional moments of the movie, which help make up for Madden’s reserved, serviceable direction. Christian Bale (EMPIRE OF THE SUN and AMERICAN PSYCHO) as Mandras also is good, but his character is under-utilized. Especially helpful are the warm performances turned in by John Hurt as Pelagia’s humanist father and Irene Pappas as the mother of Mandras. Filling out the cast are talented David Weber as a minor German officer who discovers what it means to work for the Nazis Germany and Piero Maggió as an Italian soldier who discovers the deadly cost that a promise can demand.
The romantic worldview of CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN suggests that culture (Nazi Germany, for example) corrupts human nature. This worldview problem is mitigated by strong moral content. For instance, Captain Corelli tells a friendly German officer that morality trumps racial and ethnic divisions. If someone by the side of the road is in trouble and needs your help, says Corelli, you should think of that man as your brother. Later, both he and Mandras demonstrate that they live by this moral code, which comes from Jesus Christ’s description of the Good Samaritan in the Bible. There are also scenes where the villagers exhibit Christian faith and practice, in a Greek Orthodox context. Although Pelagia’s father expresses his humanist disbelief in miracles and a Communist villager gets into an argument with a Christian villager about Christianity, the movie shows more than a nodding reverence for Christian belief. This reverence especially displays itself when some villagers express their beliefs during the movie’s more traumatic wartime scenes and when an earthquake hits the village after the war. In fact, in one scene during the movie, a Nazi soldier roughly pushes an Orthodox priest out of the way. This clearly shows the disdain that these reprehensible villains had for Christian values and symbols.
It’s too bad, therefore, that CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN contains some sexual immorality with nudity and several “f” words. Thus, the Italian soldiers frolic with some semi-nude prostitutes on the beach, and Captain Corelli romances a semi-nude Pealgia before the camera discretely cuts away from them. The “f” words come into play when the Greek officials on the island tell the Italians, whom they defeated in Albania, that they would rather surrender to the German army, the true conquerors of Greece during World War II. This kind of content is not fit for any “date” movie for anybody, much less for people of true religious faith. Jesus Christ clearly condemns immoral sexual lust and practices in the Bible, including all premarital intercourse, or fornication, and sodomy outside of heterosexual marriage.
Except for his strange accent, Mr. Cage and Miss Cruz hand in fine performances in CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN, which helps make up for the reserved direction of the movie. They are ably supported by the rest of the cast, especially veteran John Hurt as Pelagia’s father. The romantic worldview of CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN suggests that culture (Nazi Germany, for example) corrupts human nature. This worldview problem is mitigated by strong moral content and expressions of Christian faith by many of the villagers. Regrettably, the movie contains some sexual immorality, nudity and strong foul language.