A New Zealander soldier’s life and action while fighting against the Nazis at the Battle of Crete will be filmed, based on Murray Elliott’s novel Vasili, the Lion of Crete, based on real-life exploits. The production is expected to cost about $6 million but is likely to be shot in New Zealand.
The book is about a New Zealander sergeant, called Dudley Perkins, who, like many other allied soldiers, was led to Crete where he fought against the German army to help Greece resist. He was arrested by the Nazis, but escaped and lived in the Cretan mountains for almost a year before fleeing to the Middle East.
Amazed by the Cretan people’s ferocity, Perkins returned to Crete but was caught again, in 1944, and executed. Locals called him with a Greek name so that the German army would not recognize him: Vasilis, the Lion of Crete.
The movie will be entitled The Straggler” The production company asked Greeks living in Australia and New Zealand to contribute by sharing their own stories and memories from the war. Further details were announced at an event in Melbourne, where several Greek-Australian politicians, artists and businessmen attended.
Among them was Yiorgos Paterakis, 81, who comes from Koustogerako village on Crete, where Perkins lived and fought against the Nazis. “He gave me golden coins once to buy flowers for my mother,” he recalls, “he was the head of 200 soldiers, and managed to take care of all of them.” He also added that “I’m so glad his life will become a movie.”