Mon_Mothma says > I did NOT find this movie a feel good movie. Really not.
I could not agree more. I had heard of this movie but never had a chance nor the desire to see it. I had no idea what it was about. All I'd ever seen were scenes of Anthony Quinn dancing and it was set in Greece. I wasn't a Quinn fan and thought the movie might be a musical. There were many strikes against it.
Based on what Zorba was saying I could tell where the story was going: uptight Brit learns to loosen up from a free-spirited, fun-loving Greek. Talk about a stereotypical premise. I'm sure this wasn't a novelty at the time so what was so special about this movie.
The more I watched the less I liked it. For an uptight Brit, Basil was very trusting and then there was Zorba. He wasn't some guy who loved life and rolled with the punches. He ran away from responsibility and didn't care how his actions affected others. He was a married man who abandoned his family. Sure, he lost his young son but so too had the rest of the family. While he was dancing, what were they doing? Did he care?
He scared and tormented a bunch of clergymen in order to befriend them then defraud them out of trees on their land. He took off with Basil's money, his last dime, and spent it on drinking and a tramp. He sends no word and stays away so long poor Basil has no idea what's going on or if Zorba will return. Basil has no money so he's stuck. He keeps encouraging Basil to behave just as badly as he does.
Zorba did try to save the widow but he didn't go far enough. By encouraging Basil to sleep with her he helped cause her death. Unlike Basil, Zorba knew those people's irrational ways but instead of warning Basil he encouraged him. Basil may have seemed weak and ineffectual and he was but he did not know the language or the people. They would have ripped him apart just to get to her. I also don't think he knew they'd go as far as killing her.
Basil and his way of life, his uptight culture and ways are criticized harshly. He made to seem like a naive bore because he likes to read and think instead of just feel and act but there are plenty of positive things that come from learning a variety of ideas and from things that happened in the past.
Zorba was supposedly the one who knew how to live but he lived solely in the present time just like the villagers. They felt rage over the suicide of the lovesick young man so they blamed the widow and took vengeance on her. Was she supposed to be with a guy she wasn't interested in and who acted like the child he was?
She let him know on many occasions she was not interested. Did she have no right to be with or not be with whomever she wanted? The closed off nature of the village meant people acted by tradition barbarically; probably the same ways they had acted generations before. It's good to learn from one's past and plan for the future.
Sure, Zorba could let things roll off his back like they didn't matter but maybe he wouldn't have had to do that so often if he behaved more responsibly. Much can be avoided when we learn from our mistakes instead of ignoring them. How would the world be if we all were so nonchalant when things went wrong? There's a great distance between taking life as it comes; not letting it crush you and behaving like a nitwit child who just throws caution to the wind and then cares nothing for the consequences.
Woman, man! That's the way it should be Tarzan. [Tarzan and his mate]