Captain Corelli’s Mandolin | Sunday Observer

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being in love which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”
- Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli's Mandolin

The film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is directed by John Madden and is based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Louis de Bernières. The film stars Nicolas Cage as Captain Antonio Corelli, Penélope Cruz as Pelagia, John Hurt as Dr. Iannis, Christian Bale as Mandras, David Morrissey as Captain Günther Weber and Irene Papas as Drosoula. It is set in the Greek island of Cephallonia during the Second World War.

The film begins with a local fisherman, Mandras who has been injured by a performer, Megalo Velisarios having to visit Dr. Iannis. Mandras meets Dr. Iannis’s beautiful daughter Pelagia and they fall in love immediately. But Mandras is the wrong man for Pelagia and they are not compatible because Mandras is not educated and he is not intelligent, and Pelagia is the daughter of an intellectual who educated her. Pelagia is intelligent, headstrong and independent and has a mind of her own because her father was responsible for developing these aspects of her personality as he raised her on his own. Pelagia’s mother did not have a part in her upbringing because she died when Pelagia was very young. Pelagia needs to be intellectually stimulated but the uneducated and unintelligent Mandras cannot provide this stimulation.

Mandras leaves to join the Greek army during the war, and although Pelagia frequently writes to him he never replies, which makes Pelagia think that he does not love her. Meanwhile, the Italian army occupies Cephalonia and an officer named Antonio Corelli stays in Dr. Iannis’s house. Corelli is intelligent, educated and understanding and has a passion for music and plays the mandolin. Pelagia and Corelli feel drawn to each other and they enter into a relationship. Mandras comes back and Pelagia finds out that the reason he did not reply her letters was because he is illiterate and she realises that he is the wrong man for her.

Music plays an important part in the development of the relationship between Corelli and Pelagia because they fall in love through music. Although Italy was a fascist state under Mussolini and Corelli was a captain in the Italian army, he is not a fascist, and both the novel and the movie condemn Fascism, Communism and Nazism.

As the war rages on, the Italian army surrenders to the Allies and Corelli flees to Italy promising Pelagia that he would return after the war. In the novel, Corelli does come back after the war, but he does not meet Pelagia because he sees her with her adopted daughter Antonia and he says that he thought she was married which does not ring true. The question arises as to why Corelli did not approach Pelagia and talk to her to find out whether Pelagia was married or not, instead of making a ridiculous assumption that she was married just because he saw her with Antonia.

The film stays true to the novel’s portrayal of the horrors of war, but it deviates from the novel’s presentation of tragic love by re-uniting Corelli with Pelagia after the war. It depicts a beautiful love story about a man and woman who are compatible and have a meaningful relationship and enjoy a future life together and whose love transcends the horrors of war.

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