My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Number 05: Lila Kedrova as Madame Hortense in "Zorba, the Greek" (Best Supporting Actress Ranking)

Like Josephine Hull in Harvey, Lila Kedrova won the Oscar for playing a very eccentric and unusual character – but while Josephine Hull was hilariously funny, Lila Kedrova is immensely heartbreaking as Madame Hortense, the ill-fated owner of a little hotel on a Greek island.

Right from the start, Lila Kedrova uses her unique appearance and voice to craft Madame Hortense as a very strange and unusual woman – she’s very eccentric, she loves to talk about her ‘four admirals’ with whom she affairs in the past (sometimes at the same time) and she comes across as rather laughable because there is something so ridiculous about her. And so it’s  no surprise when Alan Bates’s character secretly starts to laugh about her. But then, in one second, Lila Kedrova turns her whole character around when she catches him and says, with disbelief in her voice, ‘You are laughing…at me’. In this moment Madame Hortense becomes one of the most tragic characters ever – never taken seriously, always too over-the-top but incredibly heartbreaking in her loneliness.

Madame Hortense is a woman who is past her prime and knows it – at a Christmas Party she has fun with Zorba but then slips and falls and says ‘You see…it is too late’, referring to her age. And Lila Kedrova simply says all her line in the most heartbreaking way possible. When Zorba leaves, she begs to him ‘Don’t forget me!’ and when Alan Bates tries to cheer her up, telling her ‘He’ll be back’, she says ‘They all say that…’ with a sad voice, thinking about her four admirals and how they left her.

Lila Kedrova’s most moving scene comes when Zorba writes a letter, telling Alan Bates that he met another woman – Madame Hortense wants to know what stands in the letter and Alan tells her ‘Read it yourself’. Madame Hortense looks as it, but then says ‘I can’t read it…my eyes’. She leaves it open if she really did not understand the content of the letter and decided to live in her world of her own fantasies in which Zorba wants to marry her – but Lila Kedrova really knows how to break your heart in this moment. Later, she even tops all this when Madame Hortense is lying in her bay, praying quietly and hallucinating.

Overall, one of the most haunting and, again, heartbreaking performances ever.


dinasztie said...

For me it's THE most heartbreaking performance ever.

Louis Morgan said...

She is amazing with every moment she has.

Anonymous said...

What an unexpectedly brilliant performance! She was just unbelievable, heartbreaking isn't enough to describe it, when they talk about the wedding that Alan Bates makes up, and in every other moment, she really shines in every scene.

joe burns said...

She is certainly amazing, a VERY VERY worthy win! I love the video of her winning too!

Check out my review of it Fritz!