Friday, March 28, 2014

The woman caught in adultery...

I watched Zorba the Greek last night.  The scene where the Widow (Irene Papas) is rescued by Zorba (Anthony Quinn) reminded me of the Gospel narrative of the woman caught in adultery.  I think Kazantzakis intended it that way.  The twist occurs when the Widow is suddenly murdered, her throat slit.  If you are not familiar with the story, here's a convenient synopsis of the scene from Wiki:

Basil had gone to the Widow's house, made love to her and spent the night. The brief encounter comes at great cost. A villager catches sight of them, and word spreads, and the young, local boy who is in love with the Widow is taunted mercilessly about it. The next morning, the villagers find his body by the sea, where he has drowned himself out of shame.
The boy's father holds a funeral which the villagers attend. The widow attempts to come inconspicuously, but is blocked from entering the church. She is eventually trapped in the courtyard, then beaten and stoned by the villagers, who hold her responsible for the boy's suicide. Basil, meek and fearful of intervening, tells Mimithos to quickly fetch Zorba. Zorba arrives just as a villager, a friend of the boy, tries to pull a knife and kill the widow. Zorba overpowers the much younger man and disarms him. Thinking that the situation is under control, Zorba asks the Widow to follow him and turns his back. At that moment, the dead boy's father pulls his knife and cuts the widow's throat. She dies at once, as the villagers shuffle away apathetically, whisking the father away. Only Basil, Zorba and Mimithos show any emotion over her murder. Basil proclaims his inability to intervene whereupon Zorba laments the futility of death.

In the background we hear the chant of the funeral liturgy, the camera providing glances of the priests, while the men assemble outside to condemn the Widow.  Just when you think she is safe, the father of the dead suitor slits her throat.

Zorba lamenting the futility of death is so existential, huh?

I thought instead, the real lament should be the total lack of mercy - especially by religious people.  Zorba wasn't a religious man - yet he intervened to save the condemned woman - he had mercy in his heart...

1 comment:

  1. I have never seen this movie, but I think I will look it up now. We are all so quick to condemn. I think it is because it makes us feel superior. Mercy involves getting out of your own sense of justice and being totally involved in another person. That is what we see when we look at Christ hanging on the cross, the ultimate symbol of mercy and love.

    Where would any of us by without the mercy of God?


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