Michael Cacoyannis
Date of Birth
Jun 11, 1922
Birth Place:
Limassol, Cyprus


Educated in Greece and London, Cyprus-born Michael Caccoyannis launched his professional career as a lawyer. Having had a taste of the arts by producing Greek-language programs for the BBC during the war, Caccoyannis forsook the legal world for the theatre, joining the Old Vic as an actor and director. When he ran into difficulty securing directing jobs in the British film industry, Caccoyannis returned to Greece, where he made his first film, Windfall in Athens, in 1953. The director was instrumental in the success of Greek superstar Melina Mercouri, guiding her through the multi-award-winning Stella (1955). Caccoyannis' first significant international success was Electra (1961), a fluid adaptation of the venerable Euripides play. His biggest hit was Zorba the Greek (1964), which fully demonstrated the influence that the Italian neorealist movement had had in the director's work. Unfortunately, Caccoyannis' next film, The Day the Fish Came Out (1967), was an expensive disaster, though he more than compensated for this set-back with his critically acclaimed The Trojan Women (1971) (he'd previously directed the well-received Broadway stage version of this ancient drama in 1963). After a long absence from the screen, Michael Caccoyannis directed the 1986 film Sweet Country, which received negative criticism at the time, but looks better with each passing year. He made his last picture in 1999 - a screen adaptation of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, co-starring Alan Bates and Charlotte Rampling -- then spent his last decade in inactivity, and
died of a heart attack at age 89 in July 2011. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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