Z – Costa-Gavras (1969)


Z is a 1969 Algerian-French epic political thriller film directed by Costa-Gavras, with a screenplay by Gavras and Jorge Semprún, based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Vassilis Vassilikos. The film presents a thinly fictionalized account of the events surrounding the assassination of democratic Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis in 1963. With its satirical view of Greek politics, its dark sense of humor, and its downbeat ending, the film captures the outrage about the military dictatorship that ruled Greece at the time of its making. The film stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as the investigating magistrate (an analogue of Christos Sartzetakis who later served as president of Greece from 1985 to 1990). International stars Yves Montand and Irene Papas also appear, but despite their star billing have very little screen time. Jacques Perrin, who co-produced, plays a key role as a photojournalist. The film’s title refers to a popular Greek protest slogan (Greek: Ζει, IPA: [ˈzi]) meaning ‘he lives,’ in reference to Lambrakis. The film had a total of 3,952,913 admissions in France and was the 4th highest grossing film of the year. … At the time of release, Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, who named Z the best film of 1969, liked the screenplay and its message, and wrote, ‘[Z] is a film of our time. It is about how even moral victories are corrupted. It will make you weep and will make you angry. It will tear your guts out…When the Army junta staged its coup in 1967, the right-wing generals and the police chief were cleared of all charges and ‘rehabilitated.’ Those responsible for unmasking the assassination now became political criminals. These would seem to be completely political events, but the young director Costa-Gavras has told them in a style that is almost unbearably exciting. Z is at the same time a political cry of rage and a brilliant suspense thriller. It even ends in a chase: Not through the streets but through a maze of facts, alibis and official corruption.’ …”
Wikipedia
Roger Ebert (Dec. 1969)
Slate
amazon
YouTube: Z

About 1960s: Days of Rage

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