The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is denied a hall for its meeting due to the hall owner threatened by right-wing elements so the peace people have no choice but to hold at the Employee Union Hall, with loudspeakers outside for the benefit of the crowd outside. The leader of the movement (Yves Montand) decides to carry on with the speech despite learning of a threat on his life. He finishes his speech and is crossing the square to demand the police quell the seething rioters when he is struck in the head from someone in the back of a lorry. He is operated on but dies. His death not only makes him a martyr among his supporters, but causes a coverup to ensue. A determined photojournalist and the inquest judge assigned to the case soon realize the extent of the conspiracy, a conspiracy that goes up to the top.
The journalist's relentless digging leads to identifying members of CROC, the Christian Royalist Organization against Communism, a secret society the cops use to keep order at parades. The leader of CROC says, "Abroad, some say make love, not war! We say, 'Make war on corruption and liberalism, and on indiscriminate liberty!'" Well, the liberty that was banned when the junta took over included pop music, intellectual books, and the letter "Z", which was the ancient Greek symbol for "he is alive."Basically, they are the counterdemonstrators, the agent provocateurs who beat up the peaceful disarmament people.
The dispassionate inquest judge is simply doing his job, wanting just the facts, but with each piece of evidence or testimony that comes, he realizes that an incident involving two drunks becomes a death due to a blow by a club, and then assassination. He is under pressure from the attorney general, who feels that a prolonged inquest gives the peace movement fuel for subversive action.
Criticized for being talky, Z is actually an effective, suspenseful political drama that is a snapshot of the times. The assassination of the senator mirrors that of JFK. Witnesses intimidated, killed, and guilty participants having doctored stories from their paymasters. One witness though, bravely tells his testimony from his hospital bed even though he has been beaten. A leading communist is chased down the streets by a car.
The Cold War paranoia and hysteria of anti-communism is presented here, taken to the extreme of equating disarmament with communism. And groups like CROC are still alive today. The CIA-sponsored KOPASSUS was behind the 1998 riots in Indonesia.
Contrast these speeches, first from the senator: "Why do our ideas provoke such violence? Why don't they like peace?... The other [groups] are nationalists used by the government and don't upset our Judas allies who betray us. We lack hospitals and doctors, [while] half the budget goes to military expenditures. ... A stockpile of A-bombs is equal to a ton of dynamite per person on Earth. They want to prevent us from reading the obvious conclusion based on the simple truths, but we will speak out. We serve the people and the people need the truth." As Greece was the father of democracy, one can only think, "Has Greece come to this?"
Director Costa-Gavras's searing indictment of the CIA-sponsored Greek military junta under the colonels from 1967 to 1973 is the prototype of political assassination thrillers, something that may have served as a model for Oliver Stone's JFK. Indeed, the opening disclaimer states that "any similarities to actual persons or events is deliberate." The bottom line is that the CIA, the extreme right, and the military-industrial complex is also blameworthy.
One of the more radical peace members says of his ailing leader "the brain's dead, but the heart's still beating. I won't quit," invoking the spirit of any movement fighting for peace and justice.
The ENGLISH VERSION was filmed in parallel with the french version (The use of... Read more
"They asked if I was a commie.." "Are you? Read more