Louis de Bernières' best-selling novel of love during wartime is brought to the screen in this story that blends comedy, action, and romance. In 1940, war rages throughout Europe, but the fighting has yet to arrive on the Greek island of Cephallonia, where life continues to follow its own slow, deliberate path until word arrives that Italian troops have invaded neighboring Albania. A wave of anti-Axis patriotism sweeps the island, and Mandras (Christian Bale
), a local fisherman, is one of a handful of men who volunteer for the army, leaving behind his aging mother (Irene Papas
) and the woman he loves, Pelagia (Penélope Cruz
), the daughter of the island's physician, Dr. Iannis (John Hurt
). The timing of Mandras and his compatriots proves less than fortuitous, as Italian troops invade Greece in their absence, but the remaining leaders of the island issue an ultimatum -- the people of Cephallonia will surrender, but only to a ranking German officer. Since none of the available German officers can speak a word of Greek, an Italian soldier fluent in the language, Capt. Antonio Corelli (Nicholas Cage
), is sent in to serve as translator. Corelli stays on with the Greek occupation forces, and he soon finds himself falling in love with beautiful Pelagia, who believes that Mandras was killed in the fighting in Albania. But as romance slowly blooms between the Italian soldier and the Greek girl, Mandras and a handful of surviving soldiers have joined a guerilla resistance faction, and they join up with Allied forces in a bid to retake Greece; soon, Pelagia must choose between the two men she loves, as the Greeks battle both the Italian occupation troops and German soldiers who have been sent in to replace them. Captain Corelli's Mandolin
was directed by John Madden
; the project originally began shooting with Roger Michell, but Michell was forced to resign from the film after he suffered a heart attack.