Z (film)

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Z is a 1969 French language political thriller 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 chilling ending, the film captures the outrage about the military dictatorship that ruled Greece at the time of its making.[1]

Z stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as the investigating magistrate (an analogue of Christos Sartzetakis, who years later was appointed President of Greece by democratically-elected parliamentarians). International stars Yves Montand and Irene Papas also appear, but despite their star billing have very little screen time compared to the other principals. Jacques Perrin, who co-produced, plays a key role. The film's title refers to the popular Greek protest slogan "Ζει", meaning "he (Lambrakis) lives".

Contents

Plot

The location of the action is never expressly stated (filming took place primarily in Algiers), but there are hints (such as a Greek typewriter, and advertisements for Greek beer) that it is Greece in the early 1960s. Furthermore, in the opening credits there is a mock disclaimer which reads (in translation): "Any resemblance to real events, to persons living or dead, is not accidental. It is DELIBERATE."

The story begins with the closing moments of a rather dull government lecture and slide show on agricultural policy, after which the leader of the security police of a right-wing military-dominated government takes over the podium for an impassioned speech describing the government's program to combat leftism, using the metaphors of "a mildew of the mind", an infiltration of "isms", or "sunspots".

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