Zorba The Greek is one of my favourite movies, which seen as a child in the early sixties made a deep and enduring impression on me. I completely fell in love with the music of Mikis Theodorakis, its joy and melancholy, its power and beauty, and I still can’t hear it without being moved to floods of tears. I fell in love too with Anthony Quinn who brought the character Zorba to life with such understanding and enthusiasm that I find it difficult to separate the actor from the character and from the music of Theodorakis; the three elements welded so perfectly as to form a kind of other entity which has become a part of my own psyche. But back to Mikis Theodorakis…
I wonder whether his music would mean so much to me if I hadn’t known anything about the man. I am quite naturally attracted to people who sacrifice their own lives to improve the lives of others, people whose concern for their own safety in the face of tyranny and injustice takes second place to their conviction to oppose evil governments and social wrongs. No, that’s just crazy. The music speaks volumes about the man and his heart, and I couldn’t fail to be moved by it.
“What comes naturally in my mind when I hear the name Theodorakis? The artist that so intelligently fused classical music with folk and popular bouzouki greek music and popularised the work of great Greek poets like Elytis and Ritsos. The composer that showed the world what Greek music is like, through his soundtrack for “Zorba the Greek”. At the same time the freedom fighter comes forth, a man that participated in protests for the rights of the working class, a man who was imprisoned and tortured for the ideas he believed in, who travelled all over the world performing against the military junta in Greece, someone that still has the guts to criticize modern Rome’s foreign policy.” PAVLOS LIONTAS
Here are some clips, the only ones I could find which actually played properly all the way through, (since Google took over YouTube things have significantly fallen apart) which focus on the piece of music for Zorba’s dance.
Anyone who hasn’t seen Zorba The Greek is a pitiable creature who must do everything in his power to find a copy with all speed. I recall the movie in vivid colour and richness, although I learned much later that it had been screened in black and white, so intense was the impression it had made on my mind at the time. I understand though that now it’s possible to get it in colour, and I strongly advise seeing such a version.
Another movie, Z, about the Greek military junta which destroyed the lives of so many during the sixties, features the music of Theodorakis, who at the time the movie was made was being tortured, buried alive twice amongst other unimaginable horrors, and Costa Gavras was able only to use pieces which Theodorakis had formerly written, rather than new compositions from the great artist which he had hoped to inspire.