East Bay View (a blog about several things)

now 98% free of substantive content

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Canonball #994: Z

Starring Yves Montand, Irene Papas, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jacques Perrin
Written by Jorge SemprĂșn with Costa-Gavras, from the novel by Vassilis Vassilikos
Directed by Costa-Gavras

Proof that content does matter: if a right-wing filmmaker had relied so heavily on hyping the audience up with quick cuts and a buzzing score, s/he'd be absolute evil. As it stands, Costa-Gavras rails against corruption in the military that, by the time the movie was made, had taken over Greece, which makes him some kind of hero. His political thriller had rare American success for a foreign film (made in French in Algeria by a Greek expatriate), even getting a Best Picture nomination.

It's painted in bold strokes, in terms of both image and dramatic construction. The story is based on the real life assassination of senator and peace activist Gregorios Lambrakis in 1963. The subsequent investigation, led by magistrate Christos Sartzetakis, uncovered links between the right-wing People's Party and extremist organisations, leading to the downfall of the government (the military would stage a coup in 1967). In the movie, the death of the unnamed senator (Yves Montand) is at first claimed by the authorities to be an accident. The magistrate (Jean-Louis Trintignant) arrives and, despite cutthroat interference, uncovers the military conspiracy behind the assassination. His triumph is that he achieves this without resorting to the violent methods of the enemy.

The one major flaw is the brevity with which what happened next is detailed at the end. For the gist I turned to Wikipedia, which says that the military junta lasted till 1974, when meddling in Cyprus brought Greece to the brink of a war with Turkey it couldn't win, and Constantine Karamanlis, the former Prime Minister who had resigned in the aftermath of the Lambrakis assassination, returned to become the democratically elected leader. At least one of the good guys got a happy ending: Sartzetakis became President (a largely ceremonial role) in 1985.


Post a Comment

<< Home