Oscar-winning Greek film now out on DVD

The DVD version of «Zorba the Greek,» a Greek film that has enjoyed immense international success, is being released now with perfect timing, in the midst of Greece’s international Olympic summer, and featuring the music of Mikis Theodorakis, a composer who also featured prominently at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The DVD of Michael Cacoyannis’s Oscar-winning film was recently released in the US, while there was also special mention of it in the film magazine Variety. According to the magazine, the restored copy does justice to Walter Lassaly’s black-and-white photography, while the fact that the DVD contains commentary by Cacoyannis (who was the producer, as well as scriptwriter and director) made the wait worthwhile. The magazine also points out that many of the filmmakers of the 1950s and ’60s are no longer alive today, so Cacoyannis’s comments on his film and how movies were funded and filmed back then are rare and particularly informative. According to Cacoyannis, «Zorba the Greek» was filmed in English because it was specifically aimed at the international market, while the film was already a success before it even opened at the cinemas as its distribution to cinemas in the US was guaranteed. The production costs came to about $1 million, a budget that far exceeded any Cacoyannis had dealt with thus far, as none had gone beyond $30,000 dollars. Cacoyannis said that Anthony Quinn was «difficult but wonderful» and that he chose black-and-white because «Greece is a black-and-white country because of the quality of the light.» Those who are used to DVDs that have reproduced uncut versions of films will be disappointed; there is only one additional scene, as the approximate 30 minutes that were originally cut have since been lost. «Zorba the Greek» met with huge international success and dominated the 1964 Oscar ceremonies, having been nominated for seven Academy awards: best picture, directing, adapted screenplay, actor in a leading role (Anthony Quinn), actress in a supporting role (Lila Kedrova), cinematography (Walter Lassaly) and art direction (Vassilis Fotopoulos). It eventually won Oscars in the latter three categories. The DVD release comes shortly after the recent release of Mikis Theodorakis’s ballet «Zorba» with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Choir, conducted by Charles Dutoit (it was released last month).

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