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Greece, It`s Islands and Hollywood

Since the 1960's, Greece and the Greek Islands have been hosts to film sets of many Hollywood movies. Greece has welcomed many celebrities over the years, when famous actors and actresses have come to Greece to film.

Starting way back in 1957, on the Greek Island of Hydra, the film 'Boy on a dolphin' was made. 'Boy on a dolphin', was the first International film ever to be made in Greece. The film is set in Hydra, although parts are filmed in Athens, Rhodes and Delos. The 1957 production, starring Sophia Loren, is about a penniless diver named Phaedra. When Phaedra discovers a gold statue of a boy riding a dolphin, whilst diving one day, she is faced with the option of doing what is right and becoming wealthy. When Phaedra tells her boyfriend of her find, he has plans to sell the statue to an art dealer. Phaedra on the other hand, wants to return it to its rightful home with the Greek government.


Three years later in 1960, a second international film was made in Greece, this time in Piraeus. “Never on Sunday” is a tale of traditional Greek culture meeting the controversial modern day life. Ilya, is a prostitute living in Piraeus in Greece. Although extremely popular with her male clients, she is envied by other prostitutes, as everyone admires her high-spirits and love for life. When a Greek philosophical intellectual, Homer Thrace, arrives in town, he is disgusted by Ilya's behavior and profession. Not only has Ilya upturned the sophisticated manner of the Ancient Greek town, but she also refuses to believe the ancient stories of tragic Greek plays and invents her own versions with happier endings. Homer gradually learns to like Ilya and finds himself falling for her, as he tries to prove to her that a better life awaits her, away from prostitution.

Based on the 1957 novel, “Guns of Navarone”, was made into a film in 1961. The film, which was made on the Island of Rhodes, shows many of the archaeological sites throughout the film. In the story, 2000 British soldiers are held captive on the Island of Keros. Escaping is no easy task, but is crucial, as time is running out as the Germans are on their way to attack. Escaping the Island proves to be difficult, as the nearby Island of Navarone possesses large amounts of ammunition. The British soldiers form a team to blow up the guns on the Island of Navarone. They then continue their journey, sailing across the Aegean sea, dressed as Greek fisherman, on their quest to stop the Germans from invading and drawing Turkey to their side.

The next film, “Zorba the Greek”, which was filmed in 1964, was filmed in both Britain and Crete. Most of the film is shot on the Island of Crete in the towns Chania, Apokrounos and Akrotiri. The movie tells the story of a middle class English man, Basil, bored with his life in England. Unexpectedly, he discovers that he has received a small inheritance on the Island of Crete, left to him by his Greek father. Basil travels from Britain to mainland Greece, where he waits for a boat ride to take him to Crete. There he meets Zorba, a poor, Greek peasant boy. As they begin to talk, Basil tells Zorba of his plans to start a new life in Crete, hoping that he will change his views on life. After spending time with an optimistic Zorba, Basil’s thoughts begin to change.

1981 saw the arrival of the world famous 007 spy in Meteora. The James Bond film “For your eyes only”, starring Roger Moore as the favorite British secret agent, brought a temporary surge of interest to the area. British spy, James Bond, is sent on a mission to recover the priceless ATAC communication device, which was sunk along with a British spy ship. Bond is on a race against time, as he learns that he isn't the only one searching for the device, when he hears that the Russians are also on the look out.

Santorini, known as the most romantic Island of Greece, was the set of the next International film, “Summer Lovers”. The 1982 film highlights the beauty of the popular Greek Island in this summer flick. One summer, a young American couple travel to the romantic Island of Santorini, where they plan to stay for the summer. However it isn't long before the idyllic scene is shattered for the young woman, as she learns of her partners affair with a French woman he has recently met. On discovering this, the young American woman, has intentions to find the French woman. Upon meeting, both women surprisingly find themselves forming a close friendship.

Six years later in 1988, another International film was shot in Greece. The film “The Big Blue” was filmed between the neighboring Islands of Los, Amorgos and Mykonos. The plot of the film expresses the tragic story of two boys who grew up together in the Mediterranean. Enzo and Jacques have always shared the same passion, which is diving. Throughout their childhood the boys would spend all day diving in the Mediterranean Sea. After Jacques father, who is also a diver, dies tragically in the sea, Jacques and Enzo lose contact. Many years pass until one day, whilst performing a scientific test for scientists, Jacques meets Johanna, a young clerk. Jacques is under going a scientific test, which involves him jumping into ice cold water, so that scientists can observe the reaction it has on his body. They then discover that his body state resembles a dolphins more than a humans, which explains why he makes such an excellent diver. Johanna takes an instant liking to Jacques and as the weeks pass since their first acquaintance, she is desperate to find a reason to contact Jacques. On seeing a notice for a champion diving tournament, Johanna finds an excuse to call Jacques. Jacques agrees to enter the tournament, which is to be held in Taormina. On travelling to Taormina, he finds his long lost friend, fellow competitor and current champion, Enzo. Jacques and Enzo enter into a dangerous situation, when they realise that there only true competition is each other.

1989 Brought the Oscar nominated and BAFTA winning “Shirley Valentine” to the screens. This tells the story of Shirley, a middle aged housewife from Liverpool who is so bored with her existence, until her best friend wins a holiday in Greece for 2. On arriving, Shirley soon realizes that there really is a better life than preparing her husbands fry-up every day.
She falls for a local Greek fisherman who shows her a side of life that she has never had before.
The scenes in Greece were shot on the island of Mykonos.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin, set in the beautiful island of Kefalonia, briefly boosted tourism on the Island after the release of the 2001 movie hit. The film, which starred famous Hollywood stars Nicholas Cage, John Hurt and Penelope Cruz, is also a popular novel. Sami, Antisamos and Fiskardo were the three towns where the film was shot. Based in the 1940's at the time of World War 2, the story shows the struggle through the world  war, the Greek Civil war, and the disastrous 1953 earthquake and how the Island eventually recovered. The story begins when Pelagia, a young Greek woman and the daughter of the local doctor, watches as her fiance goes to war. Months pass without hearing anything from her husband to be, which leads Pelagia to worry about her fiancé’s welfare. Meanwhile after the invasion of the Italian army, Pelagia meets the very charming Italian officer, Captain Antonio Corelli. Aware of the Captains fondness towards her, she is unwilling to lower her defenses. Eventually after spending a lot of time together, the pair grow close. But as their feelings grow, they are left with facing up to the problems of the war, making sacrifices for their countries and the return of Pelagia's fiancé.

In 2003, Santorini was once again the backdrop for another International production. This time the Island wasn't the idyllic setting of a love story, but the setting of action movie “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The cradle of life” starring Angelina Jolie.

The next international film set in Greece, was the hit comedy “Mamma Mia”. The movie uses many Abba hits throughout, but boasts an all-star cast. The popular comedy hit was set in Skiathos and Skopelos. Amanda Seyfried, plays a young woman named Sophia. Sophia, who lives on a Greek Island, begins to plan her dream wedding. As she starts checking off things on her wedding to-do list, she finds one outstanding task to complete, that is to find her biological father. One day, after discovering her mother’s diary from her younger days, Sophia begins to read an entry about a male stranger that her mum met many years ago. Believing that this man could be her father, Sophia feels a rush of excitement, until she continues reading two other similar entries from the same year. She discovers that her real father is one of the three men mentioned, but as her mother remains close-mouthed on the subject, Sophia faces the dilemma of never knowing who her biological father really was.

“My life in ruins” which was filmed in most of the historical and archaeological sights in Greece, was filmed in 2009. The majority of the movie was shot in Olympia, Athens and Delphi. The 2009 comedy is about an American college professor, Georgia, who has lost her job in Athens, where she was teaching Greek studies. Depressed at the state of her life and landing a job  that that she feels is below her, she feels that she has lost much of her zest for life. Georgia's new job is working as a tour guide in Greece, dealing with people who do not share Georgia's love of traditional Greek culture and history. Although despising her tedious new job in the beginning, she realizes that she must return to her usual up-beat self to save her job, sanity and life from going  to ruins. But things start improving for Georgia, when she finds herself working with a more unusual and interesting group of tourists.

Many International movies have been filmed and are continuing to be filmed in Greece and on the Greek Islands. Not only do these films contain interesting plots, but they provide viewers with beautiful views, scenery and back drops.