CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN
About The Production
Producer Kevin Loader bought the rights to Louis de Bernieres' novel. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, shortly after it was published in 1994. I thought it was a fantastic story about a forgotten corner of the world," said Loader.
A British publishing phenomenon, the book remained on best seller lists in Britain for more than three years and has sold enough copies in the U.K. to be in one of every 20 British households. The film, which was released in Britain in
May, has also been extremely popular there. It is among the top 10 dramas released in the U.K. in the last three years, topping such films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Traffic and The Talented Mr. Ripley. And for star Nicolas Cage, Captain
Corelli's Mandolin has now outperformed all of his other titles at the British box office.
But back to the beginning. After acquiring the rights, Loader offered the project to his colleague, director Roger Michell. Together, they approached Tim Bevan at Working Title Films. Britain's leading production company.
"I loved it," said Bevan, "and though its structure was difficult, it had a lot of emotion and a great love story. That's a cinematic event whichever way you look at it." Shawn Slovo was commissioned to write the screenplay. But after substantial work had been done in development and pre-production, Roger Michell became ill and had to withdraw from the film less than six months before the scheduled start of filming in May 2000.
Although casting had not begun, Nicolas Cage had accepted the title role of Corelli, and a start date had been fixed. We wanted a European director who could do a movie of scale," said
Bevan. "John Madden was at the top of that list. He read the script and committed to the movie the same night."
Madden explained his quick decision. "I was immediately moved by the possibilities and dimensions of a love story unfolding
in an extraordinary and unusual setting — love during the occupation of one country by another. A young woman who struggles with her obligations to her community and traditions, and the demands of her own heart, and the price she has to pay for what she chooses. I was also intrigued by the depiction of a unique world and an insular people with only a distant sense of the
conflict which will eventually engulf them, threatening a love that hasn't had time to take root."
Madden's interest deepened when he became aware of the historical circumstances which inspired the book. As he put it, the uneasy relationship between Italians and Germans, by no means natural allies, and the paradox of the Italians and the Greeks
finding that underneath the hostility they are the same people."
Madden jumped right in and began working with screenwriter Slovo. "John says you can't have enough stories in the Story," said
Bevan, 'so he brings narrative, narrative, narrative to the script, and every single image pushes the story forward."
The filmmakers visited nearly all of the Greek islands in the Ionian Sea, as well as spots in the
Mediterranean and Aegean in search of locations for their epic love story. But something about the spirit and splendour of Cephallonia demanded that they film their tale on the same island that inspired Louis de
Bernieres to write his book.
"The story is set on this island and, against all conventional wisdom, we decided to shoot the thing there," Madden recalled.
"The whole identity of the film is completely bound up in the place that we're in.
We felt sobered, and burdened, with a sense of commitment," the director continued.
"We met citizens who had kept Italians and refugees in their houses, who had survived and lived through the earthquake. We wanted convey the uniqueness of the story, and honor the lives of the people it is describing."
With script work ongoing, and Madden also casting, line p
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