Island Idol: Greek Islands in Hollywood Films

By Lia Karidas

As a Greek living abroad, it is always satisfying to see visions of Greece’s natural beauty displayed on the silver screen. The islands, in particular, are a force to be reckoned with in terms of Greek settings represented in Hollywood films. But which island does Hollywood love the most? Follow down the list as GHR recaps the Hollywood films that take place in the Greek Islands…. This, is Island Idol.

Boy On a Dolphin (1957)- starring Alan Ladd, Clifton Webb & Sophia Loren

Starting with an oldie, this 20th Century Fox film took place amongst the islands of the Aegean, but was filmed predominantly on the Greek island of Hydra.

Zorba The Greek (1964)- starring Anthony Quinn

Based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba The Greek tells the story of an English writer who meets a free-spirited peasant on the island of Crete.

For Your Eyes Only (1982)- starring Roger Moore

The twelfth film of the James Bond franchise was partly set (and filmed) in Corfu, another island beauty of Greece. The film entails James Bond kicking butt, as always, but this time, the antagonist is a deceptive Greek businessman.

Summer Lovers (1982)- starring Peter Gallagher, Darryl Hannah, and Valerie Quennessen

While the film was critically snubbed, there is no doubt about the beauty of it’s settings. Taking place in Santorini, Crete, Delos, and Mykonos, the tag line, “this is one summer you’ll never forget”, is quite fitting.

High Season (1987)- starring Jacqueline Bisset

An English photographer, living on the island of Rhodes, deals with the unexpected appearance of her ex-husband, an old friend, and unresolved issues from the past.

Pascali’s Island (1988)- starring Ben Kingsley, Charles Dance, and Helen Mirren

The film, set in 1908 on an island under Ottoman occupation, chronicles the experience of an Ottoman spy who reports on the actions of the local people. This film was shot on location in Rhodes and Smyrna.

Shirley Valentine (1989)- starring Pauline Collins

When her best friend wins a trip for two to Greece, Shirley Valentine sees a perfect opportunity to escape her redundant life and take some time for herself. She finds romance and a new sense of self on the Greek island of Mykonos, where the movie was also filmed.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)- starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz

An Italian invasion of the Greek island of Cephalonia brings together an italian soldier, Captain Antonio Corelli, and a Greek peasant woman, Pelagia.

The Bourne Identity (2002)- starring Matt Damon

While the film only lands us in Greece at the very end, we still have to give a point to Mykonos for making a blockbuster appearance.

Swept Away (2002)- starring Madonna

While a commercial and critical failure, this modern-day remake of the 1972 Italian film, features a planned trip from an unnamed Greek island to Italy, that takes an unexpected turn when the passengers end up shipwrecked on another Greek island.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)- starring Angelina Jolie

This sequel to the 2001 film, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, takes place in several Greek locations including the island of Santorini.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (2005)- starring Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, Blake Lively, and America Ferrera

This feel-good tale of love and friendship takes place (a quarter of the time) on the Greek island of Santorini. The sequel, The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2 (2008), is due for release this summer and will also feature footage taken on this island.

Mamma Mia! (2008)- starring Meryl Streep

The film based on the world famous musical is set to be released next month, and also takes place on an unnamed Greek island. While the name of the island is never mentioned in the play, the film was shot in Skopelos, and Skiathos, two of Greece’s lesser known islands.

Now, for the results. Tied for first place, with three films each, are Santorini and Mykonos! But in all honesty, the beauty and history of all of these settings are too great for competition. In fact, the real winners here are probably the viewers of the films!


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