“Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” – Film Review

January 5, 2022

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Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is a novel written by the famous novelist Louis de Bernieres. It is his fourth novel that was created in 1994 and brought him recognition. In 2001, the English director John Madden shot a film based on this work starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz. One of the principal issues that are revealed both in the novel and the film is the process of the development and decay of the relationship between the two of its main characters – Pelagia and Mandras. Their relations can figuratively be depicted in terms of the three seasons – summer, autumn and winter. The more time passes with its circumstances, the colder the relations between them become.

The passion is the thing that makes people blind in theirs strivings, deeds and desires. There are a lot of types of passion, and the dotage is one of the strongest. Some people are more subjected to such a delusion than others. It is a powerful weapon in the hands of a person who is able to restrain it and accept all the features of the personality that is the subject of his/her love. These include not only positive, but negative characteristics as well. However, only a few people are able to deal with it. Although, it does not always lead into the abyss, as a rule, it results in such a way. It is especially applicable to young people such as Pelagia. She meets Mandras, who is a healthy, handsome and lively fisherman. Moreover, due to his age, he is morally pure. At this stage, everything is perfect between the love birds. It is a time when a delusion blossoms. Along with a passionate idyll, there is an increasing tension in the world’s political situation, which foreshadows a war. The summer still is in the world of Pelagia and Mandras though.

Not long after, the war begins. However, the Greek island of Cephallonia, which is the place where the most of the events of the story take place, is not a hurricane core. Nevertheless, one day, Mandras leaves the island in order to participate in the struggle with Italians. This event is a starting point of the young fisherman’s personality mutation. At this stage, Pelagia is subjected to the maintaining of the long distance relationship. It is not a problem for an enamored young woman, and she writes a dozen of the letters to her Mandras, but there is no answer. Time passes, and the passionate Pelagia decides that her fianc? has lost interest in their relations. However, when he unexpectedly arrives, wounded and muddy, she finds out that the reason is in his illiteracy. The book version of the story clearly makes it possible for us to understand that the autumn has already come. “Pelagia thought three things all at once, “I don’t want to marry him. I’ve already seen him, but can’t say so, and it was a time when he was beautiful”. The aforesaid is caused by the awful condition that Mandras arrived in after his war adventures. However, even his mother considers that there are no sufficient grounds for her son to be in such a state. It is confirmed by the following remark, ”You see, Pelagia, what a state these men get into when there are no women to look after them. It’s disgraceful and there’s no excuse for it, no there isn’t. They’re just babies who can’t manage without their mothers, that’s what, and I don’t care if he’s been to war”. Thus, in view of the aforementioned circumstances, the decay sprouts are developing and the autumn is in its height.

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The main feature of Louis de Bernieres’ depiction of certain characters is portraying them focusing on their evil deeds. In general, it indicates the fact that he emphasizes that the war is the main prerequisite of such acts. G?nter Weber as well as Mandras are just the victims whose actions are caused by the external conditions. The year before the war terminates, Mandras arrives at the island again. Now, he is a member of the National Liberation Front which turned him into a cruel and savage person. In his anger, Madras unsuccessfully tries to rape Pelagia that leads to him committing a suicide. Once and for all, the winter destroys all the ties between the former betrothed.

John Madden has artfully depicted the relations between Pelagia and Mandras in the film. However, it is quite a complicated thing to fit all the circumstantial diversity of the book into the two hours of the film. Thus, it is obvious that the portrayal of Pelagia and Mandras relationship is much stronger in the novel than the one in the movie. Moreover, for the director it was necessary to slightly alter the plot in order to create a due logical structure in his work. For example, the most obvious diversion is the fact that in the novel it is Velisarios who saves Corelli’s life, but not Mandras. Furthermore, a dozen of details are missing in the film version, namely Carlos’ destiny thread, Mandras’ madness and the subsequent suicide, and so on.

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The tragic essence of the relations between Pelagia and Madras is artfully depicted by the novel’s author in the following statement of Dr. Iannis, “Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is” . Thus, the whole story and the seasons of the relations between Pelagia and Mandras are reflected through the mentioned statement concerning the parallel with the volcano. In summer, it erupts; in autumn, it starts subsiding; and, in winter, it ultimately subsides.

The novel Corelli’s Mandolin, written by the English writer Louis de Bernieres, narrates a tragic love story of two people who are on different hostile sides that are Greece and Italia during the Second World War. In 2001, John Madden shoots the movie, based on the literary work; however, in this case, it is a love story with the happy end. In the film, the director romantically depicts overcoming the obstacles which consist of the war horrors and previous passionate, but blind love. The ending in the novel and the movie differs and, therefore, the impression varies as well. At the same time, it is possible to consider the effect of the endings not only by analyzing their difference, but also their connection.

The ending of the movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is quite traditional as for the romance film. After all the obstacles, Pelagia and Corelli are together, young and happy. This kind of the story ending is widely spread due to one’s desire to see the victory of love over all the barriers. The impression of a piece of art of any kind is mostly based on one’s subjective predilection. It is not right when one judges something due to the lack of anything that allegedly should be there. Therefore, such ending will definitely be desirable and suitable for someone.

Another type of ending and, consequently, the effect, are revealed in the novel. The tragic type of love is depicted here. The tragedy is in the lost life caused by the ridiculous misunderstanding. The latter refers to that fact that Corelli believes that Pelagia is married and has a daughter for a very long period of time. Actually, this girl was left by someone beside the door, and, after some time, Pelagia adopts her. For many years, Corelli secretly comes to see Pelagia but never sees her potential husband. Finally, they meet and, despite Pelagia’s fury caused by the fact that he has betrayed her, and they have lost life together, they stay with each other. This kind of ending is quite extraordinary due to such a weird long lasting separation based on the nonsense. The author vividly depicts the tragic absurdity of the existing situation by Pelagia’s statement, “I feel like an unfinished poem”.

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The comparison of the two of the endings makes it possible for one to realize that the effectiveness is a subjective term, but, nevertheless, the novel’s ending can be treated as more impressive due to its extraordinary character. On conditions that the degree of the effect depends to some extent on the memorability of the ending, it is necessary to state that the novel’s ending is more effective. The reading of a book involves the use of an imagination in the process of the information perception, which actually has no limits. That is why, as a rule, the written story in all respects has more influence on the reader. At the same time, it is more desirable to not consider the book and film version effects separately. It may be analyzed in an indivisible connection. There are two prerequisites for such reasoning. The first refers to the case when one primarily familiarizes with the novel and, then, with the movie. Despite all the plot limitations of the film, it makes it possible for one to realize the contrasting difference of “the picturesque Greek island of Cephallonia, with idyllic pastel coloured scenery… with the harsh reality that is devastation of the Second World War”. The movie visually demonstrates it. The second prerequisite refers to the occasion when one sees the film primarily. After the movie viewing, there is a potential possibility for the person to feel the desire to read a novel in order to broaden the impression. It is demonstrably noticeable in the article written by Carmen Cheetham, “I will now go and read the book, to see how the story could have been told!”