Zorba the Greek
(originally titled Alexis Zorbas
) is a 1964 film
based on the novel Zorba the Greek
by Nikos Kazantzakis
. The film was directed by Michael Cacoyannis
and the title character was played by Anthony Quinn
. The supporting cast included Alan Bates
as a visiting Englishman
. The theme, "Sirtaki
" by Mikis Theodorakis
, has become famous and popular as a song and as a dance (especially at parties). Several of the film's songs & instrumental pieces, with wise, poetic sayings from Zorba, gained cult status for the recorded & widely-released soundtrack.
The movie was shot on location on the Greek island of Crete. Specific places featured include the town of Chania, the Apokoronas region and the Akrotiri peninsula. The famous scene, in which Quinn's character dances the Sirtaki, was shot on the beach of the village of Stavros.
The movie won three Academy Awards. Lila Kedrova won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, Vassilis Fotopoulos won the Oscar for Best Art Direction in black-and-white set decoration, and Walter Lassally won the Oscar for Best Cinematography in black-and-white. Lassally's Oscar is shown in Tavern Christiana in Stavros.
Quinn received the nomination for best actor in a leading role and Michael Cacoyannis received three nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing, and Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.
Actor Sotiris Moustakas was almost nominated for Best Supporting Actor but was rejected due to his limited screen time. In Greece the actor is praised for his performance as the town fool.
Basil (Alan Bates), a young English writer, meets a free-spirited Greek peasant named Zorba (Anthony Quinn) while waiting to travel to the island of Crete. While Zorba pursues a relationship with aging French courtesan Madame Hortense (Lila Kedrova, who won an Oscar for her role), Basil attempts to court a young widow. Along the way, he learns valuable life lessons from the earthy Zorba, who has an unquenchable joie de vivre
played throughout the film is well known in popular culture. A short film made in Scotland
in 1999, Billy and Zorba
is about a man who believes he is Zorba the Greek. Zorba the Greek
was also adapted into a 1968 Broadway
musical named Zorba
. Boston Pizza
serves a variety of pizza named "Zorba, the Greek" their version of Greek pizza