Zorba the Greek (film)

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Zorba the Greek (Greek: Αλέξης Ζορμπάς, Alexis Zorbas) is a 1964 Greek/US comedy-drama film about Zorba, an earthy and boisterous Cretan peasant, and Basil, the buttoned-up young intellectual he befriends.

Written, produced, edited, and directed by Michael Cacoyannis, based on a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis.
Life. Lust. Love. Zorba. Taglines

Alexis Zorba

  • On a deaf man's door, you can knock forever!
  • Zorba, you are in paradise.
  • You think too much. That is your trouble. Clever people and grocers, they weigh everything.
  • Look, boss: a big, beautiful, wild widow.
  • They hate her because they cannot have her. Only one man here can. You.
  • Remember this: if a woman sleeps alone, it puts a shame on all men. God has a very big heart, but there is one sin He will not forgive [slaps table]: if a woman calls a man to her bed and he will not go. I know, because a very wise old Turk told me.
  • Am I not a man? And is a man not stupid? I'm a man, so I married. Wife, children, house, everything, the full catastrophe.
  • What kind of man are you, don't you even like dolphins?
  • All right, we go outside where God can see us better.
  • And, as for women, you make fun of me that I love them. How can I not love them? They are such poor, weak creatures. They think so little. A man's hand on their breast, and they give you all they got.
  • Hey boss, did you ever see a more splendiferous crash?
  • Silly old bitch. She's not alone, she's with Suleiman Pasha having a hell of a time.
  • There will be no funeral. She was a Frank, she crossed herself with four fingers. The priest will not bury her like everybody else.
  • No more fooling around, not in this place. We'll pull our pants up and make a pile of money.
  • The lamb, it will burn!
  • Those damn cats!
  • Do you know how old I am? Ah, never mind, that's a secret. But I... have got to go fast. You know, they... they say that age kills the fire inside of a man. That he hears death coming. He opens the door, says, "Come in. Give me rest." That is a pack of God damned lies. I've got enough fight in me to... to devour the world! So... I fight!
  • You bastard mountain! I'll eat your guts!
  • When my little boy, Dimitri, died, everybody was crying. Me? I got up, and I danced. They said, 'Zorba is mad.' But it was the dancing—only the dancing—that stopped the pain. You see, he was my first. He was only three. When I'm happy, it's the same thing.
  • Boss, why did God give us hands? To grab. Well, grab!
  • Listen to that bitch—the sea—that maker of widows.
  • 'Why'? Will no man ever do something without a 'why'? Just like that, for the hell of it.

Madame Hortense

  • I fought breasts to breasts.
  • You are cruel! Why you abandon me? The whole village is laughing at me. Where is my white satin? Where is my wedding dress?


A man needs a little madness, or else he never dares cut the rope and be free.
Basil: I don't want any trouble.
Zorba: Boss, life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.

Zorba: Damn it boss, I like you too much not to say it: you've got everything except one thing—madness. A man needs a little madness, or else...
Basil: Or else?
Zorba: ...he never dares cut the rope and be free.

Zorba: Why do the young die? Why does anybody die?
Basil: I don't know.
Zorba: What's the use of all your damn books if they can't answer that?
Basil: They tell me about the agony of men who can't answer questions like yours.
Zorba: I spit on this agony!

Basil: I don't believe you give a damn about your country.
Zorba: Don't you talk to me like that! [pulls open his shirt, exposing his scars] Look here, here and here! Nothing on the back! I have done things for my country that would make your hair stand. I have killed. Destroyed villages. Raped women. And why? Because they were Turks! or Bulgarians! That's the rotten damned fool I was. Now I look at a man – any man – and I say, he is good, he is bad. What do I care if he's Greek or Turk? As I get older, I swear by the bread I eat, I even stop asking that. Good or bad? What is the difference? They all end up the same way... food for worms! [laughs]

Basil: Aren't you feeling well?
Hortense: In my age, monsieur, one is never well... especially on the holidays.

Basil: Don't be sad. He's coming back.
Hortense: They all say that.


  • Life. Lust. Love. Zorba.

About Zorba the Greek

  • The extraordinary is as rare in motion pictures as it is in life. [...] Yet there is no better word for Anthony Quinn in the role he was born to play: Zorba the Greek. [...] Everything about the film and the man is different. [...] When Zorba talks, you listen. [...] When Zorba drinks, you taste it. When Zorba loves, you feel it. Because this is a man who devours life as if it were a feast, a man who never puts off till tomorrow what he can enjoy today. Here is his world: sea-bathed, sun-washed Greece. Its sights, its sounds, its music, its dancing. Above all, here are its people: as proud as the silent village beauty whose desires only Zorba understood; [...] the vulnerable English youth whom Zorba sent stumbling into love; the Rabelaisian French madame who was loved by no less than four admirals; people as proud, as cruel, as revengeful, as murderous, as their barren, mountainous homeland. [...] And overshadowing them all, Zorba fighting for life, laughing at death, attaining his place among the immortal characters of our time.
  • If there is God—and I ask you, why not?—I imagine him to look just like me, Zorba. Only bigger, stronger and crazier. And more permanent. His house is the sky. The walls are clouds and the floor is covered with sheepskins. And there he sits, very comfortable, like a pasha. In his right hand he holds something which is not a sword and not a pair of scales either. Only killers and grocers have any use for such things. No sir. He holds a big sponge, dripping with water like a raincloud. On his right side, there is Paradise. On his left, Hell. ... Suddenly, a soul arrives. Naked poor thing and shivering with cold. God looks at the soul and smiles under his big moustaches. But he plays tough. "Come here," he says, putting on his special deep voice. "Come here, you no good tramp, you miserable worm. Confess!" "Have a heart, dear God," the soul cries, "Be merciful." And off she goes. She tells him one thing, then another, then another. And still there is no end to the bloody sins. Talk, talk, talk, talk. God gets bored. He yawns. "Shut up!" he shouts. "You give me a headache." And flop, flop with a sponge... and he wipes out all the sins. "Enough! Clear out, to Paradise. Quick! Hey, Peter, here's another one for you! ... [smiles and strokes beard] Poor little soul." ... That's God for you: a king, a great big king. And you know what it means to be a king?


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