Today marks the anniversary of the USA premiere of director Michael Cacoyannis’ smash hit “Zorba the Greek,” a film based on the 1946 novel by legendary Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis.
One of the most iconic Greek-inspired films in history, “Zorba” continues to entertain audiences throughout the world — more than 50 years later.
Produced on a mere budget of $780,000, the film grossed $9 million in the US box office and yielded an international gross between $18.8 million and $23.5 million, making it the 19th highest-grossing film of 1964.
The cast included names such as Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates, Lila Kedrova, Irene Papas and Sotiris Moustakas, among others.
“Zorba” received praise from both sides of the Atlantic, as Quinn received rave reviews for his performance as Alexis Zorba. Perhaps his most memorable moment was the famed scene in which he dances a simplified version of Sirtaki on the beach. The scene has since inspired countless dance performances and pop-up “flash mobs” throughout the world who perform the so-called “Zorba dance.”
But the iconic “Zorba” moment would not have been the same without legendary composer and lyricist Mikis Theodorakis, who wrote the music — now forever embedded into pop culture.
Another key aspect of the film was its location on the island of Crete — the native land of Kazantzakis. Cacoyannis shot the film in various locations throughout the island, including Hania, the Apokoronas region and the Akrotiri peninsula.
“Zorba” received seven Oscar nominations in 1965, ultimately taking home three. But no number can quantify the film’s worldwide impact — still relevant today.
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