The three films made from Kazantzakis's novels distort their sources. Celui qui doit mourir (1956) distorts Kazantzakis's vision because the film, unlike the book, ends with the displaced villagers barricaded behind a rock shooting at their oppressors, which negates everything the book tries to say. Cacoyannis's Zorba the Greek (1964) distorts its source not because the novel's ending is changed, but because it is omitted, giving the idea that the boss becomes like Zorba, which again negates what the book is trying to say. Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), although true to the source in its plot, distorts Kazantzakis's artistic aim by reducing the novel's exuberant language to Brooklynese half-sentences. It is legitimate to contend, of course, that a film ought to be allowed to stand on its own, unsupported by the novel it is interpreting. Yet, one always hopes with significant works of literary art that the film will project the essence of its source to a broader audience. In this regard, all three of the Kazantzakis films constitute opportunities missed.


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pp. 161-169
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