Classic Review – Z (1969)

Title – Z (1969)

Director – Costa-Gavras (Missing) 

Cast – Yves Montand, Irene Papas, Jean-Louis Trintignant

Plot – In 1960’s Greece, the political climate is at a boiling point between the different factions, made even worse when Z (Montand) a leftist leader is run down in the streets and killed in what the police call an accident but what many believe was a cold blooded murder. 

“Always blame the Americans. Even if you’re wrong!”

Review by Eddie on 27/07/2022

The crowning achievement of Greek director Costa-Gavras’s up and down career, Oscar winning political thriller Z is an incendiary and passionate example of the genre that has seen it become a film often regarded as one of the best cinematic products of its type. 

Inspired by real life events the occurred in Gavras’s home country in the 60’s, Z is the type of film that could only be born from truth as we are thrust into a politically charged thriller centered around the fiery and deadly developments between the left and right wing in Greece, one that culminates in the death of high profile political figure Z who is killed one night after a speech, with police trying to pass the death off as a terrible accident with others sure it was anything but. 

For a film of its age it’s hard too think of a more documentary like or frenetic experience, more than likely a style that was an inspiration for the likes of Oliver Stone and Paul Greengrass, Gavras barely lets the the film sit for more than a few minutes at a time as we as an audience are whisked from scene too scene with multiple characters, situations and agenda’s playing out before our eyes and it’s not hard too see why editor Françoise Bonnot took home one of the films two Oscar’s in 1970 for his work helping Gavras achieve his vision. 

This documentary like delivery of the film helps its seeped in reality nature really hit home as we see a nation and its leaders divided and incensed at what is occurring on a daily basis and while it’s a sad fact, there’s little denying that the themes at play here aren’t just as relevant now as they were back then as we find ourselves in a world climate with various factions at play and violence and war on our doorsteps, a sad state of affairs but one that assures Z is despite its flaws, an important part of film history. 

Despite its highly regarded reputation amongst the film community, Z is a film that maintains a relatively low-key standing in the public realm, much like many of Gavras’s films, it’s hard too say why this is exactly but for anyone that counts the likes of All the Kings Men, All the President’s Men or The Battle of Algiers as some of their favourite genre entries, Z is a film well worth your time. 

Final Say – 

Full of rage and power, Z may not be faultless but it’s one of the best politically inspired thrillers ever made and a forefather to the type of films that have become commonplace in the genre over more recent times. 

4 kamikaze cars out of 5 

5 responses to “Classic Review – Z (1969)

  1. Pingback: The inspiration of Costa-Gavras – Slow Glow to 70·

  2. One thought for the late Jean-Louis Trintignant who played in “Z” one of his many massive parts. That’s a very tough political thriller you reviewed here brillantly. “L’aveu” with Montand is another huge film I like from him.

    • Thanks mate, I will have to find a copy of L’aveu to watch, I must admit I had never heard of that one until you mentioned it here.

      • It’s based on the Prague trials and it denounce the communist dictatorship at that time. Montand was a communist but he was horrified by the deviance of the regime and the atmosphere of permanent suspicion. It’s another political pamphlet and it’s written by Jorge Semprun, which was another great intellectual of that time. I don’t know the english title of the film, but if you find it I’m sure you’ll like it.

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