The place of the stars is in the sky and they are there to inspire imagination and romance… But when the “stars” decide to come to Greece, they set off a frantic explosion among the cinephile public. From Sophia Loren on “Boy on a Dolphin” film to Meryl Streep and “Mamma Mia,” the legends of American and European studios have made the spotlight of fame shine on Greece, the country that gave birth to Civilization.
Boy on a Dolphin (1957)
In 1957, 20th Century Fox brought worldwide cinema lovers a stunning new world of charming excitement transporting them into the land of the “golden Gods,” Greece, through an adventurous love story. “Boy on a Dolphin” film, produced by Samuel G. Engel and directed by Jean Negulesco effortlessly delivered to the world the power of Greek beauty, establishing shots of the Greek Saronic Islands, notably Hydra, Athens, Rhodes, Delos and Meteora.
Plot: A Greek diver (Phaedra) finds a precious antique statue, representing a boy on a dolphin, at the bottom of the Aegean Sea in the isle of Hydra plunging her into intrigue in a fabulous classic movie starring Alan Ladd, Clifton Webb and the screen’s most exotic star Sophia Loren.
Never On Sunday (1960)
“Never on Sunday” (1960) is a black-and-white romantic comedy film, starring Melina Mercouri and Jules Dassin. The brainchild of American expatriate Jules Dassin fueled by several Greek elements, such as dance, music, and language, offered the Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis the Academy Award for Best Song, and the Greek actress Mercouri the award for Best Actress at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival.
Plot: American tourist and ancient Greek culture enthusiast Homer Thrace (Jules Dassin), from Middletown, Connecticut, meets the free-spirited prostitute Ilya (Melina Mercouri) living in the port of Piraeus in Greece. Infatuated with Ilya’s personality and believing that she constitutes a prime example of Greek contemporary decadence, Homer decides to amend her easygoing ways.
After the world-wide success of “Never on Sunday” movie, Jules Dassin accepts to direct the fabulous allegorical tale of Greek writer Margarita Limberaki with Raf Vallone, Anthony Perkins and Melina Mercouri in the leading roles. The wealthy society of shipowners and their families came in the epicenter of the successful melodrama “Phaedra” traveling curious cinemophiles back to the ancient tragedy of Euripides “Hippolytus” under the music tones of Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis. The film was set mainly on the Greek island of Hydra, as well as in London and Paris.
Plot: Thanos is a powerful Greek shipping magnate who decides to propose to marry the younger, fiery Phaedra. After leaving the University of Economics in London to fulfill his dream as a painter, his first-born son Alexis meets his beautiful stepmother and he falls in love with her. Their doomed affair will lead the whole family to a tragedy.
The 300 Spartans (1962)
The 1962 CinemaScope colorful action film “The 300 Spartans,” shot in the village of Perachora in the Peloponnese, was a successful flashback to the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Starring Richard Egan as the Spartan king Leonidas, Ralph Richardson as Themistocles of Athens, David Farrar as Persian king Xerxes, Diane Baker as Ellas and Barry Coe as Phylon, the movie reminded the people across the world of the actual heroism of those who stood and finally died helping shape the course of Western Civilization.
Plot: The true story of 300 Spartans who under the guidance of King Leonidas tried to hold off an invading Persian army of around 250,000 soldiers led by evil King Xerxes.
The 1964 British-Greek drama film, “Zorba The Greek,” directed by Cypriot Michael Cacoyannis, was mainly based on the homonymous novel of Nikos Kazantzakis. The lusty personality of the peasant Zorba was scrupulously revealed through plenty of eye-catching scenes from the beautiful Greek island of Crete. With Alan Bates, Anthony Quinn, Irene Papas and Lila Kedrova in the leading roles, the movie earned Oscars for actress Lila Kedrova, cinematographer Walter Lassally and art director Vassilis Photopoulos.
Plot: English writer Basil arrives in Crete to inspect his father’s abandoned mine and to realign his personal values when he meets with Zorba who lures him in a journey to his flamboyant wold. In Crete, Basil is introduced to a young widow and he is attracted to her. On his part, Zorba feels affection toward the woman who runs their hotel. These two totally different men will manage to cope with the most trying circumstances.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)
Set amidst the Italian occupation of Greece during World War II, the 2001 epic tale, “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,” directed by John Madden, was based on Louis de Bernières’ 1994 novel. The bucolic beauty of Greece’s Ionian island Cephalonia became an unforgettable setting for a heartwarming love story with Hollywood stars Nicolas Cage and Penélope Cruz in the leading roles.
Plot: Greek-speaking officer Captain Antonio Corelli falls in love with the strong-willed daughter of the village doctor, Pelagia, and he begins to question his own stance against war and its brutality.
Mamma Mia! (2008)
The tremendously successful musical “Mamma Mia!” was transferred to the big screen in 2008 starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan and produced by Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson’s Littlestar and Playtone. The Phyllida Lloyd film dived headfirst into the vast Aegean waters inviting the cinephile public to take a trip to the shining Greek sun of Sporades under the music tones of Swedish pop group ABBA.
Plot: Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), a spirited, young woman is going through her wedding preparations in Greece. Her dream is to be escorted down the aisle on her bid day by her real father. For this reason, she secretly posts wedding invitations to three different men from her mother’s past. And the events take a different turn…
My Life in Ruins (2009)
“My life in Ruins” (2009) was an American-made film shot in Greece that successfully delivered breath-taking images of the country across the world. In this movie, directed by Donald Petrie and produced by Tom Hanks, the famous Greek-American actress Nia Vardalos, along with Alexis Georgoulis and Richard Dreyfuss lured the audiences to a magnificent journey to Acropolis and Delphi, as well as to other archaeological sites around Greece and Spain.
Plot: What can a Greek-American travel guide visiting Greece possibly have in common with a group of misfit, snobby American tourists? They will finally manage to recapture their lost “kefi” after opening their eyes to life’s most unexpected surprises traveling by a dilapidated old bus.
Arcadia Lost (2010)
The American drama film “Arcadia Lost” (2010), directed by Phedon Papamichael, was a great opportunity for a visual adventure to a Greece entirely different from the stereotypical summer holidays on the islands. The country represented in a way, life’s infinite possibilities, both positive and negative. This international film was shot entirely in Greece, specifically in the mountains of Arcadia and the Peloponnesian coast.
Plot: “Arcadia Lost” narrates the adventure of two American teenagers in Peloponnese, Greece. 16-year-old Charlotte (Haley Bennett) and her 15-year-old stepbrother, Sye (Carter Jenkins), spend their summer holidays in the country when their parents lose control of their car and fall into the sea. Alone to wander around the dusty roads and mind-boggling vistas of rural Greece, they meet ex-patriot Benerji (Nick Nolte), an American adventurer who takes them on a trip to the mystic waters on the sacred flanks of mount Parnassus helping them to discover a world they didn’t even know that existed.
Before Midnight (2013)
The 2013 American romantic drama film,”Before Midnight,” being the sequel to “Before Sunrise” (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), received widespread recognition being even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Director Richard Linklater sharing screenplay credit with actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy who are also the leading characters of the story delivered a wonderful message to their audience, that of the ideal of imperfection that may lead to unexpected perfection under certain circumstances.
Plot: A blissful family holiday on the Greek Peloponnese peninsula is coming to en end. A marvelous love story uses beautiful Greece as a romantic setting in order to be reintroduced to its fans. The first scene opens at an airport, where Jesse (Ethan Hawke), is saying goodbye to his teenage son, Hank, while Celine (Julie Delpy) along with the twin girls are waiting for him in the car park.