Zorba the Greek is a 1964 film based on the novel Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. The film was directed by Cypriot Michael Cacoyannis and the title character was played by Anthony Quinn. The supporting cast includes Alan Bates, Lila Kedrova, Irene Papas, and Sotiris Moustakas.
Basil (Alan Bates) is a half-English half-Greek writer who has been raised in Britain and bears all the hallmarks of an uptight, middle-class Englishman. He is waiting at a port in mainland Greece one day when he meets a gruff, yet enthusiastic peasant and musician named Zorba (Anthony Quinn). Basil explains to Zorba that he is traveling to a rural Cretan village where his father owns some land, with the intention of opening up a lignite mine and perhaps curing his writer's block. Zorba relates his experience with mining and convinces Basil to take him along.
When they arrive at Crete, they take a car to the village where they are greeted enthusiastically by the town's impoverished peasant community. They stay with an old, French war widow named Madame Hortense (Lila Kedrova) in her self-styled "Hotel Ritz". The ever audacious Zorba tries to persuade Basil into making a move on Madame Hortense, but when he is reluctant, Zorba instead seizes the opportunity, and they form a relationship.
Over the next few days, Basil and Zorba attempt to work the old lignite mine, but find it too unsafe and shut it down. Zorba then has an idea to use the forest opposite as a kind of logging area (although his actual plan is left ambiguous), however the land is owned by the powerful monastery of the village, so Zorba goes over there and befriends the monks by getting them drunk. Afterwards, he comes home to Basil and begins to dance in a way that mesmerizes Basil.
Meanwhile, Basil and Zorba get their first introduction to "the Widow" (Irene Papas), a young, widowed woman, who is incessantly teased by the townspeople for not remarrying, especially to a young, local boy who is madly in love with her, but whom she has spurned repeatedly. One rainy afternoon, Basil offers her his umbrella, which she reluctantly takes. Zorba suggests that she is attracted to him, but Basil, ever shy, denies this and refuses to pursue the widow.
Basil hands Zorba some money, as he sends him off to the nearby town of Chania, where Zorba is to buy cable and other supplies for the implementation of his grand plan. Zorba says goodbye to Basil and Madame Hortense, who is by now madly in love with him. While in Chania, Zorba entertains himself at a cabaret and strikes up a brief romance with a much younger dancer. In a letter to Basil, he details his exploits and indicates that he has found love. Angered by Zorba's apparent irresponsibility and the squandering of his money, Basil untruthfully tells Madame Hortense that Zorba has declared his love to her and intends to marry her upon his return — to which she is ecstatic to the point of tears. Meanwhile, the Widow returns Basil's umbrella by way of Mimithos (Sotiris Moustakas), the simple-minded village idiot.
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