"The two faces of January" filmed on the Acropolis of Athens
"The two faces of January" filmed on the Acropolis of Athens - Image credits: observer.com

Wondering which movie to watch this weekend? Here is a list of award-winning movies filmed in Greece to feed your wanderlust!

The sheer diversity of landscapes existing in the countryside of Greece, along with the radiant cultural heritage of the country, makes Greece an irresistible location for directors to shoot their films there. From pop-themed comedies to biographies and documentaries, the presence of Greece in the international filmography offers you many options for you to choose from. Check out the following list and immerse into the fictional worlds of the proposed movies.

Before Midnight

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The movie "Before Midnight", filmed in Messene, Greece - Image credits: nytimes.org

This 2013 American romantic drama film is the last of Richard Linklater's trilogy Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight. With Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in the leading roles, this movie rounds up the years-long unravelling relationship of Jesse and Céline. Nine years have passed since Before Sunset and the couple - now parents - decide to spend their holidays in Greece. Unable to escape their concerns and trapped in their past and current lives, the couple spends time talking to each other, expressing their fears and prejudices in an honest, convincing, natural and intimate environment.

After Richard Linklater’s visit to Greece, he was convinced that Messene was the place for the completion of his trilogy. In his interview to Vulture he said:

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A scene from the movie - Image credits: flickminute.com

“Like the others, it could have been anywhere. But there’s something I like about the ancient qualities of Greece. It’s so old, it kind of resonates just by being there, in a way. There’s nothing we can experience or think about that the Greeks didn’t already deal with, because anything to do with the human psyche, the human experience, it has been philosophized about. To be somewhere that predates Christianity … I met a woman who was like, "Yeah, a month ago, I dug up a coin that was 3,000 years old." It’s like, Wow, what is that like to have that kind of connection?“

With an enthusiastic response from the critics, the movie got 14 international awards and was nominated for more than 30.

The Zorba inside me
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Le Grand Bleu

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A scene from the movie "The Big Blue", filmed on the island of Amorgos - Image credits: pinterest.co.uk

Filmed in 1988, Luc Besson’s Le Grand Bleu (the Big Blue) is one of the most representative movies of the French film movement cinéma du look. Two life-long friends, Jacques Mayol (Jean-Marc Barr) and Enzo Molinari (Jean Reno) grow up together on the island of Amorgos in the 1960’s. The film debates the developing relationship between the two friends but the true protagonist of the movie is the landscape itself. Shot at the fierce rocks of Amorgos island, this movie will definitely enchant and immerse you into the careless world of a Mediterranean island.

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The monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa on Amorgos island - Image credits: pinterest.com

The film was screened out of competition at the 1988’s Cannes Film Festival and met with positive reviews. Rémi Lanzoni, the cinema historian described it as “oozing with a sensuous beauty unlike any other film at the time.”

He who must die

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The poster of the movie "He who must die", filmed primarily on the island of Crete - Image credits: wikipedia.org

Based on the novel of Nikos Kazantzakis Christ ReCrucified, the "He who must die" (Celui qui doit mourir) is a 1957 movie directed by the French director, producer, writer and actor Jules Dassin. The film is set in a Greek village occupied by the Turks in the 1920’s. Following their tradition, the villagers decide to put up a Passion play to celebrate Easter. The whole village participates actively in the play and as the plot thickens the borders between the story of Jesus and reality start to blur. The New York Times described the film as “brutally realistic”, praising the "daring sort of candour and relentless driving" in the way it works out the logic of the plot.

With filming locations all over Greece, the movie offers an array of landscapes from Greek countryside, especially from the island of Crete reflecting how life used to be in a typical Greek village.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

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A scene from the movie "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" filmed on the island of Cephalonia - Image credits: flickminute.com

This John Madden’s war film is set during the WWII on the island of Cephalonia, located in the Ionian Sea. Captain Antonio Corelli (Nicolas Cage) is put in command of an Italian garrison occupying the island. There, he meets Pelagia (Penelope Cruz) a local woman that her fiance fights against the Italians with the Greek Army. A love story begins between them and Captain Corelli is torn between his duty and his love.

The island of Cephalonia was the set of the movie with some of its most impressive landmarks appearing in the film, such as the Acropolis of Sami, the beach of Myrtos and Antisamos and the ruined monastery of Agios Fanentes. The film is based on the novel of Louis de Bernières and despite the spectacular filming locations and the huge production costs, it did not receive good reviews. Nevertheless, the inspiring love story of Antonio and Pelagia finds its place among the lush pine forests of Cephalonia with its pristine beaches that surely steal the show.

Athens Riviera Sailing Cruise
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Mamma Mia!

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The movie "Mamma Mia", filmed on the island of Skopelos - Image credits: observer.com

No list could exclude the musical phenomenon, Mamma Mia! This musical romantic comedy of 2008 was primarily filmed on the island of Skopelos, one of the islands of the Sporades. The plot develops over the relationship of an independent mother, Donna (Meryl Streep) and her daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). On the occasion of her wedding, Sophie asks about her father and through a series of amusing events Donna and her daughter reconcile with the past and move their lives even further.

Locations such as the Glysteri, Milia and Kastani beach appear in the film alongside with the picturesque old port of Skopelos and many more!

The church of Agios Ioannis Kastri on Skopelos island - Image credits: greekboston.com

Whichever your choice is gonna be, it is sure that all these movies are going to take you to some of the most iconic sceneries Greece has to offer! Enjoy your weekend with one of the previously mentioned films, and perhaps plan your own trip to some of those movie-sets. Do not waste more time, plan your own Greek experience or check out one of our Greece tours.