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Z (The Criterion Collection)

Yves Montand , Irene Papas , Costa-Gavras    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Product Description

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Costa-Gavras's Z, winner of the 1970 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, is a classic political thriller, combining intrigue with raw emotional power. The story turns on the investigation of the assassination of a left-wing Greek politician (Yves Montand), and his government's attempts to cover up the murky circumstances. Montand receives death threats as he prepares to give a speech condemning the government, and is then run down in front of numerous witnesses. Jean-Louis Trintignant (The Conformist) plays the judge assigned to the investigation, who gradually discovers how far the state will go to rid itself of political opposition. As he is warned off the case by his superiors, the judge becomes even more determined to discover the truth, no matter where it might lead. Costa-Gavras (Missing, Mad City) is in familiar territory here, but no one handles this type of material better. Z is a classic of political intrigue and social consciousness. --Robert Lane

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Political Thriller! Jan. 3 2010
Format:DVD
Costa-Gavras provides us with a film that echos the often the over-looked mood and spirit of life under the "Generals" in Greece during the 1960s. [The film was released in 1967.] Gregorios Lambrakis, a popular left-wing figure was killed in 1963 in Greece. "Z" is a fictionalized story of a journalist who digs for a the truth behind the death of an eerily similar victim in a fictitious country. I was rivetted by this film and quite surprised by the courage it took to create a film so obviously meant to criticize the Greek junta. Costa-Gavras took a great deal of "heat" from the Greek government. It did not appreciate his perceived political interference by directing and releasing "Z." ZZ: Masterworks Edition (Widescreen)Whistle Blower (Widescreen/Full Screen)Outstanding casting with Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jacques Perrin, Yves Montand and Irene Papas made this film very believable. The "Z" even has a profound meaning" "He lives."

In a time of incredible paranoia and fear, propogated by a police state apparatus with virtually no limits to its power - the ability of a few people with a desire and the courage to seek justice make a difference. Here this is no cliché. Greece was the birthplace of democracy. I find it poignant that some democratic protests in Greece in the 1960s are the cannonade launching "Z." Do not pass this by. Purchase this DVD!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable Film In An Excellent DVD Restoration Nov. 27 2003
Format:DVD
Although it is seldom seen today, in 1970 Constantin Costa-Gavras' "Z" picked up both the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Picture and an Academy Award as Best Foreign Film. In the wake of the John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations of the 1960s and fueled by the later Watergate scandal, the film had tremendous resonance with American audiences, becoming one of the highest grossing foreign language films ever released in that market.
Based on the novel by Vassilis Vassilikos, which was itself based on the 1966 "Lambrakis Affair" in Greece, "Z" is at once a political thriller and satire. Set in an unnamed nation, it presents a politician who is strongly critical of American and Russian nuclear build up and his nation's participation in it. Denounced by the status quo as a communist, he is met with civic obstruction when he arrives to give a speech and afterward is struck down and killed by a speeding truck in the streets. A drunk driving accident, according to local officials. An assassination, according to his entourage.
Although the film has a somewhat slow and uncertain build, once fully underway it becomes a rapid-fire series of sharply edited scenes in which the sloppy assassination plot is unraveled by a dispassionate magistrate sent to conduct an investigation--an investigation plagued by assaults on witnesses and civic cover-up. But in such a corrupt society, can the full truth ever be known?
Director Costa-Gavras walks a very fine line here, presenting the characters as archetypes but endowing them yet endowing with enough human emotion to engage our interests and sympathies. And the cast is remarkable, with Yves Montond, Irene Papas, and Jean-Louis Trintignant particularly notable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, Fast Paced Thriller Nov. 30 2002
By P
Format:DVD
Watching Z reminds the viewer of a train wreck. Facts, acting, storyline, plot, and intrigue are all thrown together into one strange conglomerate of film. Miraculously, when the dust settles, this wreck of a movie is one of the best political thrillers ever made.
Z chronicles the turmoil of Greek politics in the 1960's. The Cold War was at its peak, with Vietnam on Europe's mind. The communists and other assorted leftists were becoming increasingly powerful, leading to an energetic response by the military and police. The event that Z spotlights is the assassination of a leftist political dynamo, played very well by Yves Montand. The tension on the street, the simmering violence and official misconduct are all portrayed in Z. The feel and aura of a dangerously fractured Mediterranean nation are explosive and will not be ignored.
The movie reveals itself to the viewer at a rapid pace. The best role in this movie belongs to Jean-Louis Trintignant, who portrays the Examining Manistrate. It's his job to finalize the report concerning the assassination, which the Greek military police deem an "accident". The Magistrate does not except this conclusion, especially after consulting with the doctors who have examined the body. His investigation proceeds at a whip lash pace, as he ignores threats and favors thrown his way in order to assure his collusion. The trail of evidence quickly begins to trail upward, to the top of the Greek government. For that ride, we meet many dynamic characters and are treated to some real exciting police work. It doesn't exactly keep you guessing, the guilty parties are fairly obvious, but Z is a taut political thriller that delivers.
My one qualm with Z is the lack of a total picture concerning the situation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Costa-Gavras's breakthrough drama Oct. 14 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Constantin Costa-Gavras's breakthrough hit. A powerful (though choppy and polemical) drama based on the "Lambrakis affair" in Greece preceding the 1967 US-backed military coup there. Lambrakis, a popular leftist legislator (Yves Montand), is murdered, and evidence mounts of a conspiracy implicating police officials. Story gradually builds momentum and becomes compelling, aided by an outstanding Mikis Theodorakis score. This film appeared in the middle of the colonels' régime (1967-74), and people who had been in Greece told me at the time that it was dangerous there to talk about this film or the Vassilikos book it came from. Costa-Gavras later directed and sometimes also screenwrote other films with themes of political corruption and conspiracy: State of Siege (1973), Special Section (1975), Missing (1982). Z normally appears in the US in subtitled form; I urge skipping any English-dubbed version, if such even exists. Some films take better to dubbing than others. In this case the issue is not just the integrity of the work but the flavor of the experience. Z effectively evokes the pre-coup milieu of a semi-corrupt Mediterranean parliamentary monarchy (and theater of cold-war manipulations). The scenes would lose atmosphere, were the characters forced to mouth gringo English. (Beware also of a later, inferior set of English subtitle text that has appeared, not as alive as the language in the standard theatrical subtitles. In those originals, the catch phrase that trips up the witnesses in the investigation is "Like a tiger. Lithe and fierce, like a tiger. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Quelle atmosphere!
Published 1 month ago by JEAN MARC HOURIET
4.0 out of 5 stars Metaphor for American intervention in other countries
I first saw this film in 1970 when I was a college student. In 2004, it retains its relevance to me as an Amercian. Read more
Published on July 8 2004 by Larry VanDeSande
2.0 out of 5 stars Let's set the record straight.
The "experts" commenting here advise avoiding the English "DUBBED" version.
The ENGLISH VERSION was filmed in parallel with the french version (The use of... Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2004 by fw Bear
5.0 out of 5 stars Z--he still lives!
The 1969 Oscar winner for best foreign film is based on the 1963 assassination of Greek communist politician and doctor Gregorio Lambrekis. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2004 by Daniel J. Hamlow
5.0 out of 5 stars A film that you will never forget
I was 22 when I saw the film in London. That was 1969, a year after the French students uprise in Paris and we were taking over buildings in universities. Read more
Published on May 13 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Frustration
Yves Montand's character is murdered in front of several hundred people and most of the film is spent watching the judge trying to get to the bottom of it. Read more
Published on March 19 2001 by Richard English
5.0 out of 5 stars Liked JFK? You'll love Z.
The other reviews have got things covered. Get this film! Don't forget to watch for some of the humour :)
"They asked if I was a commie.." "Are you? Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2001 by Jerry K
5.0 out of 5 stars a must-see movie for those who are politically aware
This movie was first released in 1969, but I didn't see it until 1973--right in the middle of the Watergate scandal. The parallels were almost too obvious for anyone to miss! Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2001 by Robin B. Forman
5.0 out of 5 stars Costa-Gavras' Masterpiece
Z is a political thriller with few action scenes,none of the "thrills" associated with conevntional thrillers. Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2001 by A. Hogan
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