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Captain Corelli's Mandolin
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Reviews & Ratings for
Captain Corelli's Mandolin More at IMDbPro »

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42 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Please read the book instead.

Author: victor-65 from Knoxville, TN
1 February 2003

Ok, it's a given that you cannot make a good movie from a good book. (Unless you make it a trilogy :-) But comparing the book Corelli's Mandolin to this movie it's clear how much has to be cut to fit a screenplay. The book is very funny in places, romantic (of course), dramatic. What's left of it in the film is inexplicable romance -- as other reviewers have remarked, it's unclear why she falls in love with the italian while her betrothed is still around, and I have no idea why this was changed from the book -- and some gratuitous gunning and bombing scenes, more than in the book which derives its power from not hammering on the obvious points. Whole characters are cut: Carlo has maybe 10 seconds screen time, while in the book he has a whole story line that runs several chapters.

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35 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Ambitious project falls slightly short

8/10
Author: FlickJunkie-2 from Atlanta, GA
10 March 2002

As is often the case when you attempt to take a 400 plus page book and cram it into a two hour film, a lot is lost. Here director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) takes on an extremely ambitious project and almost pulls it off. What we get is a charming and emotionally compelling film that seems somehow incomplete.

There is much about this film that is wonderful and fantastic. The cinematography by John Toll (Cinematographer for Braveheart and Legends of the Fall, winning Oscars for both) is splendid. Working with Madden, the choices for locations on the Greek island of Kefallonia are superb and the visual images that come from photographing these majestic locations in varying light are lush and beautiful. Madden also uses numerous Greek actors as the townspeople, giving the town an authentic feel. The soundtrack is also terrific and the mandolin passages and vocals by the Italian soldiers are marvelous.

Madden does an excellent job of bringing us the Italian occupation and the romance, which take up the greater part of the film. There are numerous sweet and funny moments throughout this segment. However, by the time the serious battle drama is ready to unfold, there isn't much film left in the reel and this component is extremely rushed and abbreviated. While the battle scenes are well done, subsequent to the battle it is obvious that increasingly greater compromises are being made to keep the film from running too long. By the time we reach the post war scenes, the treatment is merely skeletal. Another negative is that the DVD is particularly sparse on features.

Nicholas Cage is charming in the romantic lead as the sentimental Captain who seems to have joined the army to sing rather than fight. When fight he must, Cage switches gears seamlessly into a man of fierce principle and resolve and somehow remains believable in both personas.

Penelope Cruz, whom the camera loves, gives an uninspired performance as Pelagia. In part this is because Cage so dominates the screen, but Cruz just seems too placid in a part that should be emotionally torrential and dynamic. She allows the character to be objectified as Corelli's love interest rather than establishing her as a powerful character in her own right.

John Hurt gives a fantastic performance as the wise old doctor, who knows as much about human nature as medicine. However, Christian Bale seems a bit overwrought and stiff as Pelagia's fiancé.

I rated this film an 8/10. Despite some drawbacks, this is a touching film that is well worth seeing. The photography alone is worth the price of admission.

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22 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Expecting the worst...

8/10
Author: Damian Keenan (dmnkeen@aol.com)
8 May 2001

I have to admit that I approached this movie with a sense of expectation and dread. Louis de Berniere's bestselling novel is one of my favourites and anyone who has read it will realise that there is no way in hell that any screen adaptation can be 100% faithful.

All the way through I found myself convincing myself that the movie was unsuccessful, and had stripped the book's plot back so far as to render it redundant. The ending, however, is much better than that in the novel, and I could not stop thinking about the movie afterwards. Still, the plusses (John Toll's magnificent cinematography, Stephen Warbeck's great score, etc) I felt did not outweigh my initial negatives (Cage's miscasting, a heavily diluted script).

But, two days later, I was queuing again to see Corelli, and although not perfect, I have to admit now that the movie is the best anyone could have expected. Cage is actually brilliant in a role that even de Berniere was concerned was not a fully rounded character: his carefree spirit which gives way to shattered remorse is spot on, and complements the superb double act of Penelope Cruz and John Hurt perfectly. David Morrissey is quietly effective as Weber, the Nazi officer trying to reconcile his feelings for his newfound Italian friends and his inbred superiority complex to those around him. And the fine Greco-Italian supporting cast bring de Berniere's sundrenched world of Cepholonia dazzlingly alive.

On leaving the cinema second time around, I finally let go my passion for the novel which prevented me from fully appreciating the story of WW2 Cepholonia in cinematic terms. My hat goes off to John Madden who, despite the almost expected critical drubbing he is receiving from the British critics (any director who has had a major success like Shakespeare in Love behind them is always a target for these moaning ninnies!),has managed to transfer a terrifically difficult book to the big screen with such heart, verve and humanity (the core virtues of the novel, in fact) that he has created another classic love story that will probably only be fully appreciated when the dust has settled a few years from now.

If you are a fan of the book, like me, it's hard, but try not to make the same mistake on your initial viewing. Try to erase the book from your mind for two hours, bathe yourself in the glorious Mediterranean atmosphere, and discover Corelli, Pelagia, Mandras, Dr Iannis, as if for the first time (pretend you're watching something made from an original screenplay), and I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

In fact, you'll be eagerly waiting to own your own copy of this delightful movie on video or DVD.

8/10

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23 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Love And War And Occupation

7/10
Author: sddavis63 (revsdd@gmail.com) from Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada
11 August 2002

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.

7/10

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31 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

The film is a true depiction of went on in Cephallonia during the war and after.

10/10
Author: Helen14 from Sydney, Australia
7 May 2002

Being Of Cephallonian descent, I was happily surprised when watching the movie. I have heard the true history from my relatives that still live in Cephalonia, but when watching the movie and reading the book the sketchy bits of history were filled. It is all true, the Italians would sing, the oppression and the earthquakes that rock the island so often. The earthquake in 1953 killed my great grandfather and the book and movie both portray the feeling of the era with great compassion. If you haven't seen the movie go and watch it and read the book, it is not only a love story, and yes, there were plenty of Italians in love with Cephallonian women, in fact, boat loads of Cephallonian women were taken to Italy after the war, it is a true depiction of history.

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17 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Music can bring love

8/10
Author: lib-4 from florida
14 September 2001

At first I didn't think I would like this movie, but as it progressed it became better and better. I love music and I was impressed with how well Cage could fake the movements of playing a mandolin. My son was with me and he also like the movie a lot for its music and the story and the way the story unfolded--- slowly showing how Corelli won the girls heart. The acting and the story were both well done and well directed. At first Corelli's bravado was irritating, but soon he grew on you. The twists in the plot were intriguing especially the relations with the Germans. I would like to see this again to follow all the side plots. I also want to buy the sound track to hear the music again.

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16 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Disappointment, some spoilers.

Author: Fredrik (foxnetwork) from örebro sweden
16 September 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well, I see most of you liked this movie(I didn't). I read the book a few years ago and thought that it was quite good. I am of the firm belief that one shouldn't really compare books to their adaptation to the screen but this time It was hard not to. OK it's somewhat beautifully shot and the scenery is as I had pictured it but it ends there. Nick Cage is probably one of the most overrated actors of our time and his embarrassing shot at the Italian officer is remarkably unconvincing. I had hoped that American film makers would stop making the actors do fake accents to represent them being Italian etc. but no...audiences are obviously thought to be so stupid that they wouldn't understand that Corelli is Italian if he spoke with no accent. Then we have the Hollywood ending and all the other major changes in the script... (spoilers) Mandras is in this movie some kind of hero/friend of Corelli and helps him as opposed to trying to rape Cruz's character and getting killed as in the book. And of course Cages and Cruz's characters get back together a few years later instead of when they're in their 80s. I wish Hollywood wasn't so afraid of telling an uncomfortable story so that good books could become good movies instead of bad ones like this.

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12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Sketchy, Melodramatic and Clichéd

Author: Chrysanthepop from Fraggle Rock
29 January 2009

The main problem with 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' is that it focuses primarily on the romance between Corelli and Pelagia and that too is half-baked. What is it that draws Pelagia towards him is too unclear. Is it just his musical talent or his zest? The film is set against the backdrop of a war between the Germans and Italians in a Greek island but the war is given less significance and what we see appears very sketchy. The entire film appears too sketchy, melodramatic and clichéd. Much of it is also historically inaccurate.

On the technical front it is well executed. The cinematography of the beautiful exotic locations is breathtaking. The score is terrific. Where acting is concerned, Penelope Cruz can't seem to lose her Spanish accent (she's playing a Greek character) but her performance is otherwise wonderful. John Hurt and Christian Bale are equally marvelous. Nicolas Cage is a miscast. His Italian accent, energetic personality, overdone non-verbal gestures all yield to a caricature rather than a character.

Perhaps director John Madden was pressured to fit the entire novel into a two hour period and he chose to focus on the romance more to draw a larger crowd. I can't shake the feeling that perhaps someone like Anthony Mingella would have made a better and more complete film of it.

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14 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Very Watchable

6/10
Author: officersmess from Chester, UK
27 May 2001

Unlike many, I have not read the book and so I watched this purely as a film in its own right. I'm not especially keen on romance dramas, and I expected this to be a bit slushy and/or operatic so I was rather hesitant about going to see it in the first place...

But I'm glad I did, because it was good. Beautiful, "feel good" scenery and with a light touch of humour that made it rather more endearing than a straight drama would have been. The romance was gentle, inoffensive and sufficiently interwoven with enough "proper" story-telling to keep my interest, and the score was not too obtrusively operatic.

Overall, the film takes a satisfying circular route from start to finish, inducing a range of emotions as it progresses. It's about 2 hours long, but I didn't find myself fidgeting or looking at my watch once - and that's quite a feat for me!! Very enjoyable.

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13 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Could have been better…

6/10
Author: mario_c from Porto, Portugal
11 March 2007

When I was watching this movie one thought had come to my mind for several times: "It's not really what I expected, I thought it would be better", but now that I finished watching it I realize: why should I expect a better result from this movie? Isn't it just a "love story" made up in Hollywood show's standards? Of course, it is! If so, why expect more?

Captain Corelli's mandolin is a romance story in war time (WWII) and the plot which I was noticed about before watch the movie seemed very interesting to me. All that I didn't count was the "Hollywood standard's" touch... What I mean by this is that I expected a story a bit more realistic and with a stronger plot (which was not full of "plot holes" as this one is!) instead of this "sweet story romance, with the perfect ending", which we're used to watch in a great part of Hollywood's movies! Another Hollywood standard's gaffe which is very common is the natives' languages issue. The differences between Italian, Greek and German languages were all done just by a stupid accent, and all people seem to understand each other very well. The Italian and the German army arrive to a "forgotten" Greek island and they all understand each other very well as they all speak the same language! Of course it's just little technical details that don't even matter to the plot, but are all this little details which separate a good from a bad production!

But the movie has not just bad-sided arguments! On the good side, I can find the original idea (which comes from a book), and the thought that is possible to be Human, and have Human feelings, even inside a War. It's possible to sing and be happy, have good feelings, to love and to be loved in a War time! Was because of that main idea that I wanted to watch this movie, and at this particular point I wasn't disappointed! I just was dissatisfied about the way it was made! Another good-sided argument is History's knowledge… The movie is not very deep at that issue, but it's good enough to have a little idea how was the WWII in the Eastern-South Europe.

Globally Captain Corelli's mandolin is not a bad movie but it's not as good as I initially though either, mostly because of the "Hollywood show's standards" up-mentioned.

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