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DVD Review

DVD cover

Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001)
(2016 Reissue)


Starring: Nicolas Cage, Penélope Cruz, John Hurt and Christian Bale
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 14 March 2016

In 1941 the Second World War rolls over the idyllic hills of Cephalloni, bringing with it the Italian Army, including Captain Corelli. It is quickly established that this is no invading force as the Italians are more interested in singing opera and flirting with the local girls

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001. 2 hrs, 03 min, 31 sec) is a romantic film directed by John Madden, who had a success with his previous film, also a romance, Shakespeare in Love (1998). The film was based on the original novel by Louis de Bernières and adapted for the screen by Shawn Slovo.

The movie won only a single award, Most Annoying Fake Accent: Male for Nicolas Cage at The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards 2001. Not to be outdone by her co-star, Penélope Cruz was in the running for two Stinkers and a Razzie, sad to say she did not win.

Now I’m guessing you're thinking that the film is a complete washout, which isn’t strictly true. Sure, it was pretty savaged by critics on release, didn’t make a heap load of money and was detested by de Bernières, but it wasn’t all bad.

Part of the problem was the poor casting; Corelli is an American, of Italian decent, playing an Italian, with a dodgy accent. The love interest, Pelagia is played by Spanish speaking Cruz, also with variable accent and the love at first sight really does not work that well. The film also made a number of changes to the book including pretty much getting rid of most of Pelagia’s boyfriend’s story.

Poor old Mandras (Christian Bale) is not only saddled with a name which sound suspiciously like an Indian curry, but the suffering he experiences after volunteering for the Greek Army is pretty much ignored. Kissy face one minute then yesterday’s humus when Corelli drives into town waving his Mandolin around. What is a girl to do when faced with such polished wood? Watching over all this is Pelagia’s father, Dr. Iannis (John Hurt) doing what he always does, providing an effortless portrayal, also with dodgy accent.

There were bits I liked, I laughed at the Mayor's answer, when asked by the Italians to surrender, let’s just say the second word was "off", and generally the film works well when displaying Cage's talent for comedy or the war sequences and of course any scene with Hurt in. I remain impressed by Cage's singing, who knew? The place is wonderful and exactly matches my memories of staying in the Greek islands and, if you're not too critical, it hangs together as a war romance better than Pearl Harbour (2001).

The DVD comes with a couple of extras, including a full length commentary with John Madden, well worth a listen regardless what you thought of the film and an operatic rendition of Ricordo Ancor, Pelagia’s Song (3 min, 47 sec) sung by Russell Watson. You get four trailers for other films and optional English subtitles.

Get past the dodgy accents and the film really isn’t all that bad, the action sequences are well choreographed and it hangs together much better than Pearl Harbour did. The acting isn’t too bad and apart from the lack of spark between the two leads there is less here to dislike than you would think.


Charles Packer

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