Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Life Lessons Courtesy of 'Zorba the Greek'

Are you a listless British writer in need of some forced seize-the-day type lectures from a scruffy, older faux-Greek, vaguely Mexican man? Then come to the exotic isle of Crete! It's not just a great place to get away, there's so much to be learned from life while you're there. Let Zorba lead the way along this journey of discovery. Here are some basic truths from Zorba the Greek (1964). Opa!
  • Alan Bates is hot. Why didn't someone tell me this sooner? There's a scene where he's wearing glasses and being all moody that made me swoon.
  • If they ever make a Anthony Quinn biopic, no one else can play him except Javier Bardem. They have the same profile! 
  • Everyone on Crete is a bunch of assholes. They seem to always be together in huge groups just waiting to cause problems. I mean, they steal goats from people for no reason and generally make everyone feel miserable. There's a reason people from there are called Cretins.*
  • If you are a woman thinking of going to Crete, I would seriously reconsider it. You will either a) have stones thrown at you like some biblical Jezebel b) have all of your possessions stolen from your home even before your corpses is cold c) or, you know, you'll just be killed for something that is somehow your fault. Let the good times roll!
  • When your elaborately built, yet poorly constructed pulley system to transport logs falls apart, oh, well - just eat some beachside roasted lamb!
  • Dancing is the solution. To what, you ask? Everything. Put your arms up and shuffle around.
  • "Why do we have hands? To grab!" I'm pretty sure is the motto of every date rapist.
  • But most importantly (and the reason for this post) the Best Shot of the Film (for this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot from The Film Experience):

Despite the bad behavior of its men (prostitutes! misogyny! violence!), it seems to all be watched over with a blind religious eye. The stoning and murder of a character takes place right outside the church while the town is at mass. Characters clasp at crosses like it will magically save them from the evils around them (or the one's they've committed). This shot of a group of monks (all the people on this island are always in packs) tentatively approaching a make-shift cross that Zorba has created (after they mistakenly take him for the devil incarnate) shows that despite the people of Crete's belief in the power of Religion, the institution is just as superstitious, tentative, and fearful as its followers. And after examining the contents of the jug, they discover that Zorba has replaced the water with wine (a miracle!). The monks then proceed to become drunk, indulging in the debauchery that Zorba so often philosophizes about. He's always teaching some sort of lesson.

* This is just an observation from the film and does not represent the actual people of Crete. I hope.


  1. That's a great choice for a best shot and I chuckled at your observations, all except the one about Alan Bates. On that one I heartily agree, when he was young he was smokin' hot! Such a fantastic actor too.

  2. thanks, joel! I really need to look at some more of bates (after this movie, I reeeaallly wanna see more of him) I may just have to finally take a look at WOMEN IN LOVE.

  3. If you've never seen them some good films of his from around this same period are Georgy Girl, Far From the Madding Crowd, he's positively swoon worthy in that and The Running Man where Lee Remick and he seem to be competing for who can look the most beautiful and sun-kissed, gorgeous location shooting in Malaga too. That has some interesting backstory as well. Along with Alan and Lee the film co-starred Laurence Harvey, a notoriously hard person to work with, we'll never know what happened but Lee stated "The tales I can tell of working with him are too horrendous to repeat."