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In 1941, Italy allies with Germany and ruthlessly conquers the much weaker country of Greece. On a remote Greek island, an Italian artillery garrison is established to maintain order. One Italian officer, Captain Corelli, adopts an attitude of mutual co-existence with the Greeks and engages in such activities as music festivals and courting the daughter of a local doctor. In 1943, however, after Italy surrenders to the Allies and changes sides in the war, Captain Corelli must defend the Greek island against a German invasion. Written by
Anthony Hughes <email@example.com>
After a somewhat slow start I thought this movie about the Italian occupation of a Greek island during World War II picked up and became a quite enjoyable watch for a couple of hours, from primarily two points of view.
The love triangle is an interesting one and strikes me as believable, because I know it happened in various places under occupation. Penelope Cruz played Pelagia, a young Greek girl engaged to be married to Mandras (Christian Bale). I had questions about the depth of their love from the start, but their future was torn apart when Italy invaded Greece, and Mandras went off to fight. After German intervention, Greece is conquered and the island Pelagia lives on comes under Italian occupation, during which Pelagia meets and begins to fall in love with Captain Corelli (Nicholas Cage.) This, of course, was a dilemma that came to many young women in occupied lands. As they got to know their occupiers, they started to see them not as the enemy but as real people, and sometimes fell in love - often to the disapproval of their neighbours. I just finished reading an interesting book about the German occupation of Britain's Channel Islands in which this was a major issue. Once Mandras returns to the island, Pelagia is torn between them.
The second background issue is the Italian occupation itself, which I thought was quite realistically portrayed. First was the contempt with which the island treated their Italian occupiers. Greece defeated Italy (quite true from a historical perspective) and was really conquered by the Germans. The refusal of the town to surrender to the Italians and instead to insist on surrendering to a German officer struck me as something that could well have happened (and was quite funny in fact. I loved the line, "we would rather surrender to this German's dog than to you Italians.") The portrayal of the Italian troops also struck me as believable. The Italian Army was never enamoured of their German ally, and never enthusiastic about fighting with them. Although Hitler and Mussolini were close friends, their soldiers tended to treat each other with contempt. Here, the Italians are more interested in singing than fighting (which the German troops on the island simply can't understand,) and are ecstatic when Italy makes peace and withdraws from the war - until they discover that this may well make them prisoners of the Germans. It was all quite well done, I thought.
It falters a bit at the end with an all too predictable finish, but still deserves praise.
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