BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEWS

003542Reviews & Counting
SEARCH BY TITLE # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Captain Corelli's Manderin
DVD disk
Oct 8, 2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Captain Corelli's Manderin order
Director:
John Madden

Actors:
Nicolas Cage
Penelope Cruze
John Hurt

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

star Printer-Friendly version
comment
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Towards the end of the Second World War, Captain Antonio Corelli, a free-spirited Italian soldier (Cage) and musician and his company occupy a small Greek island paradise heretofore unscathed by the fighting. Forced by an arrangement to live with the local doctor (Hurt), he falls in love with his daughter (Cruz). Already engaged to marry a local fisherman and now finding herself in love with an enemy, her world begins to fall apart when Italy surrenders, the Nazi army reaches her home and they struggle to stay together through the madness of war.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Despite my worst fears of a sappy, retread "love within war" story, despite my all-around dislike for PenÚlope Cruz and despite my amazement at Nicolas Cage's choice of roles ever since he won that Oscar, I was more than happy to be proven wrong by this heart-wrenching film. If you get past Cage's hide-and-seek Italian accent, and if you get past Cruz's pseudo-Greek Spaniard accent, you'll find yourself facing a truly involving story in which you end up caring about all the characters and about the island village itself, which becomes as much of an actor in the film as anyone else.

With a touching love story set against the backdrop of war, this film will jerk some emotion out of pretty much anyone. The one flaw you can detect with respect to the storyline is that some points, it will literally be all over the place and things will happen a bit too quickly. Other than that though, the pace of the main story is great. The strange dynamics of war are also very well portrayed and even though the movie does not portray any historical accuracy, anyone with knowledge of the events of the second Great War will appreciate another look at it. This film is a true testament to the people who lived through that moment and who saw thousands of Italian soldiers massacred by the German Army who was afraid they would turn on them after Mussolini's collapse, and to those who survived the earthquake that leveled the island following the War.

John Hurt's performance as Pelagia's father and local village wise man is as unforgettable as it is subdued and he becomes the glue holding the movie and all its characters together. Cage is great as well, despite some difficulty with the accent. He's as expressive as ever and displays his usual wide range. Cruz on the other hand, has never been one of my favorites and the best I can come up with is that she did not annoy me as she usually does. You can also be on the lookout for a good turn by Christian Bale, the American Psycho himself as Mandras, the local fisherman and militia man to whom Pelagia is betrothed before the arrival of Corelli and the Italians. The film also makes the most of its beautiful location. One can hardly argue with the fact that the Greek Islands are among the most beautiful places in the world and director John Madden lets us salivate at the opal blue sea and at the lush mountain sides. Great scenery is one thing that will always draw me to a movie. It sort of makes you wish you were there, no matter what horrors befell the people living there.
THE EXTRAS
Starting (and pretty much ending) with the commentary track by director John Madden, this DVD isn't exactly packed with bonus stuff. The commentary itself is actually quite good and fills in some of the quieter moments of the movie which don't have as much weight the second time around. Madden sounds like a pretty intelligent chap (or maybe it's just the accent) and even though his tone is pretty monotonous and he doesn't exactly register as a chatterbox, he keeps you interested simply by the fact that he's interesting to listen to. It's nice and reassuring to know that some intelligent filmmakers are still out there producing films that work.

Other than that, a pretty good music video by Brit Opera singer Russell Watson performing the theme "Pelagia's song" is pretty much all you'll have, aside from the theatrical trailer, some pretty damn interesting production notes and cast & crew bios. There are also some DVD-ROM features which you'll have to discover on your own since JoBlo turned down my expense account for equipment acquisitions (he's been doing that ever since he got caught deducting that blow-up doll from his income taxes...more on that later).

One thing that would have gone down real swell for history buffs would have been a documentary on the history of this island which has appeared in everything from ancient Greek Mythology to Hollywood films. That particular period in time, although painful and disturbing would have been extremely interesting to dig deeper into.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
All in all a truly satisfying experience. The film itself is a thing of beauty and even if the DVD isn't exactly jam-packed with extras, its quality makes it a nice investment. You might want to consider a rental over a purchase based on the fact that the high emotional content of the film makes it a bit less significant the second time you watch it, thus decreasing the all important re-watch value that drives me to the mall rather than the video store. On the other hand, I'm pretty happy that this is now a permanent member of my collection.
Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

JoBlo's T-Shirt Shoppe | support our site... Wear Our Gear!