This study guide is aimed primarily at students of English Literature, who are studying Louis de Bernières’s novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin in the second year of Advanced GCSE studies but will be useful for any students wishing to look at the way in which a novel is adapted for the screen. The guide focuses on the following areas: From novel to screen: Narrative adaptation Characters Representation of nationalities Representation of war Music Language Humour
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin traces a love that begins uneasily between a conscripted officer of the occupying Italian army, Captain Antonio Corelli (Nicolas Cage), and Pelagia, a strong-willed, ambitious young Cephallonian, played by Penélope Cruz. When Corelli and his company of men arrive on the unspoiled island, they think of their stay as a kind of Grecian holiday with the war a distant radio dispatch. At first Pelagia and the other villagers resent these uninvited guests, but ultimately, the Italians’ charm and passion for life wear away the divisions of nationality and circumstance, and Pelagia comes to see Corelli for the man he is: full of love for life, for his music, and perhaps, even for her. Inevitably, the war crashes upon the idyllic shores of Cephallonia, forever upsetting its tranquility, for the inhabitants as well as for the comfortably garrisoned Italians. The tender connection that has grown between Antonio and Pelagia is also threatened. As Captain Corelli faces the violent realities of warfare, he must confront the possibility of leaving Cephallonia and the woman he has come to love. Pelagia knows that she, too, is powerless in the face of war and must say goodbye to her lover, with no certainty that they will ever meet again. Director John Madden UK release 4th May 2001 Certificate 15 Running time 140 mins
BEFORE SEEING THE FILM
CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN is an enormous literary success. First published in 1995 it has sold over one and a half million copies to date and has been in the ‘bestselling’ list for over 240 weeks. SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN, JUNE 2000
1 If you have read the novel, write a short synopsis of what you think the book is essentially about. Alternatively, read the synopsis which you will find on the back of the book. 2 Read some of the critical reviews of the book below. 3 Look at the poster image which you will find on the front cover of this study guide. From the information you have so far make a list of the aspects of the story that you think will be focused on in the film. What elements do you expect to receive prominent treatment?
‘A saga in the noblest traditions of the genre. Among de Bernières’ skills are an archaeologist’s eye for place, a historian’s feel for time and place and a musician’s ear for tone and tempo - …’ JASPER REES, DAILY TELEGRAPH
‘He tells one hell of a story, and he tells it straight, with only interludes of high comedy to interrupt the flow... He is very funny, with an acute and vivid sense of history, and he is capable of moving the reader to tears…It’s said all’s fair in love and war. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin shows that, in fact, nothing is fair in either.’ CRESSIDA CONNOLLY, SPECTATOR
‘…his work encompasses cruelty, humour, love and friendship, hope and horror...The book is both very funny and profoundly moving, sometimes at the same time.’ ANDREW POST, LITERARY REVIEW
‘An extraordinary novel…It is a love story but also a superb evocation of the idiocy of war, with an unforgettable hero, the musical captain, and his love, the local doctor’s daughter.’ DAILY MIRROR
‘Thoroughly exhilarating and lifeenhancing...shot through with humour and humanity.’ P J KAVANAGH, THE OLDIE
FROM THE PAGE TO SCREEN
The story I suppose is a list of ingredients. I don’t just mean narrative ingredients, I mean emotional ingredients and obviously character and atmosphere and theme. Movies work through compression; they...