CilL.h “mgr. lIaving decided that It’s not

they should. which brought in

the historical element of the to See Italians and (lreek partisans reactions

fighting together. the story

(ICVCIUPCd [ii-(yin [hcrc [independently from the bookI- t0 I'Itimately. we reached the same

destination. Louis is very happy.‘

Not so for many ()I' the books fans. ()ne of its major characters.

('arlo the homosexual Italian

solider. has been almost to OUtraged-

completely excised. ‘It broke my heart to have to diminish that strand of the story.‘ says Madden. ‘but it was extraordinarily hard to integrate (‘arlo into the rest of the film. There are some decisions you have to take which are painful and that was one of them.’

Also excised from the film are the atrocities allegedly committed by (‘ireek partisans against their (ierman invaders. (JUIIC also is Mandras‘

rape of his betrothed. l’elagia and the death of

her lather I)r Iannis. while the protracted reunion between l’elagia and (‘orelli is simplified with a more straightforward happy ending. All of which makes for a streamlined story uncomplicated by the tnore controversial elements of the novel. It‘s not hard to see why reactions from literary quarters to the film range from disappointed to outraged.

At a press conference in London the cast and crew rally to defend their film. Scriptwriter Shawn Slovo. who had to virtually re-write her finished script when Madden replaced original director Roger Michell at the eleventh hour. says: ‘You have to remember that with the film we only have two hours to tell the story which in the book is over 5()() pages long. Our job is to provide an elegant adaptation of the novel.‘

And speaking of elegance. Penelope Cruz. the ellin Spanish beauty who plays l’elagia. chirps in with: ‘I was reading the book on the plane from I.os .-\ngeles to Madrid and I was crying. Pelagia goes through so much in 30 years. l like l’elagia as a character and as a woman.’

‘I became aware of the book after I was sent

an early version of the screenplay when Roger

Michell was still involved.‘ says Nicolas Cage who plays the title character. 'I responded to it very favourably. I'd been looking for a romantic

movie to make and it seemed to fit the style of

acting I wanted to do at that point. I wanted to

experience a character that was in another time as I see myself mostly as a modern actor. I‘ve shied away from period films because I didn‘t know that I wouldn‘t be anachronistic in it. but John [Madden] helped me to the contrary.‘

Finally. Irene Pappas. one of Greece‘s most famous actresses who appeared in (‘osta—(iavras‘ Oscar-winning film. Z. joins the chorus: ‘The main theme of the film is the massacre of the Italians by the Germans. I was alive at the time and I and all Greeks know what happened during the war. but the film is fine because there is no time to say everything in the book.’

()K. perhaps it is being churlish to compare the lilm to the book so rigorously. After all. the book was a sleeper success. finding its way into those one-in-twenty British homes by the back door. as it were. The film. by contrast. goes for immediate. international success with its A-Iist cast (which also includes Christian Bale as Mandras). Madden took his multi-nationality acting troupe to Cephallonia and hired cinematographer John Toll (The Thin Red Line) to ensure the film was photographed with the picaresque beauty of a travelogue.

The resulting lilm is part of a new breed of

arthouse/mainstream crossover hits being pioneered by Miramax. the Disney-owned company most recently responsible for Chum/at and Madden's own .S'liakm‘pmre In Love. It's a cousin of what used to be known as the 'liuropudding‘. But where previously too many cooks from too many different countries made a number of awfully confused films. Captain ( 'urellz' 's Mandolin is carefully designed to appeal to a broad international spectrum of lilmgoers. and thus translate into box office gold. Its only stumbling block may be the books legion of fans who balk at the liberties Madden has taken with the story. But then. they‘ll have paid their money to see the film by that point. won't they?

So. where does that leave old John Huston and his good books/bad movies rule?

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, general release from Fri 4 May. See review, page 29. Captain Corelli Night, BBC Knowledge, Fri 4 May, 8pm.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is carefully designed to appeal to a broad international spectrum of filmgoers, and thus translate

into box office gold

26 Apr—10 Ma; 2001 THE LIST 1 1