Movies that Will Make you Want to Visit Greece | Movies Filmed in Greece

In the past we have seen a list of Greek films and tv-series that you can watch if you are interested in European cinema or if you just want to practice your Greek language skills. We have also covered the concise history of Greek cinema, including some legendary films from Greece’s golden cinema era.

Today, Helinika presents a list of films that will inspire you to visit or even move to Greece. Some of these films are not necessarily Greek speaking nor are they produced by a Greek film company. But they do capture the beauty of the Mediterranean country. They are presented to you in a random sequence.

9 Movies Filmed in Greece

  1. Mama Mia 1
  2. Boy on a Dolphin
  3. For Your Eyes Only (James Bond)
  4. Suntan
  5. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
  6. Zorba the Greek
  7. Never on Sunday
  8. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
  9. Mediterraneo

Mama Mia 1, 2008

The first Mama Mia (2008) movie is perhaps one of the most recent movies that put Greece into everyone’s bucket list. The American movie follows the young bride-to-be Sophie Sheridan, played by Amanda Seyfried, to the fictional island of Kalokairi, where her wedding is going(?) to take place. The real location is no other than the underrated island of Skopelos in the Sporades island group. The film also includes scenes filmed in neighboring islands and in South Pelion.

 The film is a musical and it has moderate online reviews. If you love musicals, Greece… and you are looking for a light-hearted movie to watch, you will definitely enjoy Mama Mia. Although a prequel to the movie has recently been released, all the scenes that are supposedly set in Greece were actually filmed in Croatia.

Boy on a Dolphin, 1957

Boy on a Dolphin (1957) is a vintage American adventure romance film set in Greece. Although a Hollywood film, it has an international cast. The legendary Italian actress Sophia Loren plays Phaedra, a sponge diver on the island of Hydra who accidentally discovers an ancient Greek stature of a boy riding a dolphin. What follows is a battle between virtue and money. Is the statue going to be taken away from its home, Hydra?

The movie was the first Hollywood production filmed in Greece. A very important Greek actor, Alexis Minotis, is also playing in the film, along with other European actors and actresses. Anyone who loves European cinema should watch this movie at least once.

For Your Eyes Only (James Bond), 1981

Did you know that the 12th film in the James Bond franchise is set in Greece? “For Your Eyes Only” (1981) is a British spy film with Roger Moore playing the iconic secret agent with the code number 007.

The movie includes scenes filmed in the Ionian island of Corfu, in Meteora and the Achilleion. Other scenes were filmed outside of Greece, such as the Bahamas and Italy. If you are a spy film enthusiast, “For Your Eyes Only” should be on your list.

Suntan, 2016

Suntan (2016) is a Greek drama film by Argyris Papadimitropoulos that captures the Mediterranean sunlight and scenery in a fascinating way. Described as a “cautionary tale” by critics, it premiered at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam. It follows a middle-aged doctor at a small island, whose life spirals out of control as soon as summer arrives.

The film won Best Film, Best Director and other awards at the Hellenic Film Academy Awards. If you are planning on watching it, you should know that some of the scenes are not suitable for young audiences.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, 2001

A classic film that most Greeks have watched at least once, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001) is a British war film based on a book with the same title. The movie is set in the Ionian island of Cephalonia during World War II.

Nicolas Cage plays an Italian officer with a passion for music. Penelope Cruz plays a highly educated and strong-willed woman named Pelagia. The two fall in love during some of the most brutal years of the 20th century. If you enjoy watching historical films and Mediterranean sceneries, you should watch this movie as soon as possible.

Zorba the Greek, 1964

If you know anything about Greece, then you must be familiar with the name “Zorba” or at least the popular syrtaki dance with that name. Zorba the Greek (1964) is a Greek comedy-drama starring Anthony Quinn. The film is based on a book with the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis.

It revolves around the unorthodox friendship between an uptight British-Greek writer named Basil and a chaotic, Dionysian Greek man named Zorba. The legendary film is set in the island of Crete, featuring locations such as Chania and Kokkino Chorio. It is a film that everyone should watch at least once in their lives. It is worth mentioning that the music is by Greece’s best-known composer, Mikis Theodorakis who unfortunately passed earlier this month.

Never on Sunday, 1960

It is not the first time Helinika features Never on Sunday (1960). The vintage Greek romantic comedy is set in the port of Piraeus in Athens, Greece. It is a must watch for anyone who loves Greek cinema. One of the protagonists is the great Greek actress Melina Merkouri, who plays the role of wild, untamed and honest Ilya.

Although the film attempts to show the degradation of Greek classical culture, it does so by showing a romanticized version of the notorious neighborhoods of Piraeus. You should watch it for a) Melina Merkouri, b) Hatzidaki’s music and c) the beautiful scenes set in Piraeus in the 1960s.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, 2005

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (2005) is an American comedy-drama film for teenagers and young adults. Based on a novel with the same name, the film is set in various locations. One of them is the iconic island of Santorini in the Cyclades.

One of the protagonists, Lena Kaligaris, is a Greek American girl who spends her summer with relatives in Greece. Just like the rest of her friends, she goes through a transformation while away from her family and friends. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants has made many young girls dream of travelling to Santorini one day.

Mediterraneo,1991

Mediterraneo (1991) is an awarded Italian war comedy-drama filmed in Kastellorizo in the Dodecanese. It follows a group of Italian soldiers who become stranded on the island and miss the brutality of the war.

The movie not only captured the beautiful Mediterranean scenery of Kastellorizo, but it won the hearts of the critics. It was awarded the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1992. It was also the debut film for the Greek actress Vana Barba who played the role of Vasilissa. It is a film everyone should watch in their lives. Keep in mind that some of the scenes are not suitable for young audiences.

Greek Golden Age Cinema: Best Greek Movies & Actors

With Greece being the birthplace of drama and theater, it comes as no surprise that Greek cinema has a long history. Its roots take us back to the early 20th century. But what comes first to mind when thinking of Greek cinema and Greek films, is the “golden age” of the 1950s and 1960s. In Greek, this era is called «ασπρόμαυρος κινηματογράφος» (black-and-white cinema) or «παλιός καλός κινηματογράφος» (good old cinema).

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History of Greek Cinema | Cinematography in Greece

Cinematography in Greece started in 1914 with the film “Golfo” (Γκόλφω). It was written and directed by Konstantinos Bachatoris, who later became the founder of “Athini Films” (Αθήνη Φιλμς), the first Greek film company. “Golfo” was a silent film that could be described as a Cinderella-type story that takes place in the 19th century Greek countryside.

The film was produced again in 1955 by the legendary film company “Finos Film” (Φίνος Φιλμ). This time, it was directed by Orestis Laskos and it gained a lot of popularity. Due to its success, many bucolic-themed movies were filmed at that time.

Between 1914 and Greece’s “golden age cinema”, many more films were produced. Some notable mentions are “Daphnis and Chloe” (Δάφνις και Χλόη) from 1931, which was the first film to ever depict a nude scene in Europe, and “The Shepherdess’s Lover” (Ο Αγαπητικός της Βοσκοπούλας) from 1932.

The best years for Greek cinematography started in 1942, with the formation of the production company “Finos Films”. It was founded by Filopimin Finos and became the biggest film production company in southeast Europe. But which are some of the best Greek films from that era?

Best Vintage Greek Movies | Best Greek Films

A notable film from that era is definitely “The Counterfeit Coin” (Η Κάλπικη Λίρα) from 1955. Directed by George Tzavellas, this Greek comedy-drama was included in the top-10 Greek films by the Pan-Hellenic Union of Cinema Critics in 2006. The movie follows the journey of a counterfeit coin – from the day it got engraved to the last person who found it on his way. It shows the way it influenced each person’s life, revealing the power dynamics of the Greek society at that time. Important Greek actors and actresses such as Dimitris Horn and Ellie Lambeti played in the film. These two had an international career.

The 1962 film Electra, based on the ancient Greek play with the same name, is another important film of that time. It was written, produced, and directed by Michael Cacoyannis and it was nominated for best foreign language film in the 1963 Academy Awards. It has won various awards in numerous film festivals in Mexico, Berlin, France and in other parts of the world.  

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The Greek movie “Amaxaki” (Το Αμαξάκι) from 1957 was not only a big commercial success but it also represented Greece in the Czech Film Festival.An important Greek actor, Orestis Makris, played a coachman in the picturesque Plaka neighborhood of Athens who sees his life turn upside down once people start using cars.

Some of the biggest commercial successes resulted from the collaboration of the Greek director Alekos Sakellarios with Finos Films. “The Auntie from Chicago” (Η Θεία απ’ το Σικάγο), the “Maiden’s Cheek” (Το ξύλο βγήκε απ’ τον παράδεισο), and the “Hurdy-Gurdy” (Λατέρνα, Φτώχεια, και Φιλότιμο) were very successful in the 1950s’ and Greek tv-channels still add them to their regular program.

Other commercially successful films were “Alice in the Navy” (η Αλίκη στο Ναυτικό), “The Teacher with the Golden Hair” (Η Δασκάλα με τα Ξανθά Μαλλιά), and “The Downfall” (Ο Κατήφορος). These movies featured some of the most well-known Greek actors and actresses of that time, including Zoe Laskari, Jenny Karezi, Mimis Photopoulos, Aliki Vougiouklaki, Dimitris Papamichael, and Georgia Vasileiadou.

Finally, there are many 1950s and 1960s Greeks films that won the hearts of the critics and the viewers were not necessarily produced by a Greek company, such as Finos Films, but were either filmed in Greece and/or featured Greek actors, directors, and script writers. Such examples are the critically acclaimed films “Never on Sunday” (Ποτέ την Κυριακή) by Jules Dassin, featuring Melina Merkouri, and “Zorbas the Greek” (Αλέξης Ζορμπάς) that was produced and distributed by 20th Century Fox.

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Greek Actors and Actresses of the Greek Golden Age Cinema

  • Ellie Lambeti
  • Dimitris Horn
  • Katina Paxinou
  • Irene Papas
  • Melina Merkouri
  • Alexis Minotis
  • Anna Synodinou
  • Petros Fyssoun
  • Antigoni Valakou
  • Alekos Alexandrakis
  • Jenny Karezi
  • Aliki Vougiouklaki
  • Dinos Iliopoulos
  • Thanasis Veggos
  • Mimis Fotopoulos
  • Kostas Hatzichristos
  • Rena Vlachopoulou
  • Maro Kontou