Z (1969)





ҧ:Won 2 Oscars.Another 9 wins & 9 nominations

Academy Awards, USA
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
1970 Won Oscar Best Film Editing
Françoise Bonnot
Best Foreign Language Film
Nominated Oscar Best Director
Best Picture
Jacques Perrin
Ahmed Rachedi
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
Jorge Semprún
BAFTA Awards
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
1970 Won Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music Mikis Theodorakis
Nominated BAFTA Film Award Best Film
Best Film Editing
Françoise Bonnot
Best Screenplay
Jorge Semprún
UN Award  
Cannes Film Festival
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
1969 Won Best Actor Jean-Louis Trintignant
Jury Prize Costa-Gavras
Nominated Palme d''Or Costa-Gavras
Directors Guild of America, USA
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
1970 Nominated DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures
Edgar Allan Poe Awards
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
1970 Won Edgar Best Motion Picture
Jorge Semprún
Golden Globes, USA
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
1970 Won Golden Globe Best Foreign-Language Foreign Film
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
1971 Won KCFCC Award Best Foreign Film
National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
1970 Won NSFC Award Best Film
New York Film Critics Circle Awards
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
1969 Won NYFCC Award Best Director
Best Film



In a mid-sized metropolis (population 500,000) in a right-wing military led country, a pacifist organization, which supports the opposition party in the government, is planning on holding an anti-military, nuclear disarmament rally. The organization''s charismatic leader - the deputy - is scheduled to arrive in the town from the capital the day of the rally. Beyond the problems arranging the rally due to the probable incitement of violence at such a rally, the organization learns of an unconfirmed report that there will be an attempt on the deputy''s life. The rally does happen, after which a three-wheeled kamikaze runs over the deputy, who eventually passes away from his injuries. The official report is that the incident was a drunken accident. In reality, the deputy''s death was murder orchestrated by the secret police, the general for who likens the pacifist organization to mildew killing off agricultural crops...


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 downbeat ending, the film captures the outrage about the military dictatorship that ruled Greece at the time of its making.

Z stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as the investigating magistrate (an analogue of Christos Sartzetakis, who 22 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".

The location of the action is never expressly stated (filming took place primarily in Algiers), but there are hints (such as the newspaper that The Deputy reads, which is Ta Nea, and advertisements for Fix Hellas, one of the 4 well known brands of 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 INTENTIONAL."

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".

The scene shifts to preparations for a rally of the opposition faction where the Deputy (Montand) is to give a speech advocating nuclear disarmament. It is obvious that there have been attempts to prevent the speech''s delivery. The venue has been changed to a much smaller hall and logistical problems have appeared out of nowhere. As the Deputy crosses the street from the hall after giving his speech, a delivery truck speeds past him and a man on the open truck bed strikes him down with a club. The injury eventually proves fatal, and by that time it is already clear to the viewer that the police have manipulated witnesses to force the conclusion that the victim was simply run over by a drunk driver.

However, they do not control the hospital, where the autopsy disproves their interpretation. The examining magistrate (Trintignant), with the assistance of a photojournalist (Perrin), now uncovers sufficient evidence to indict not only the two right-wing militants who committed the murder, but also four high-ranking military police officers. The action of the film concludes with one of the Deputy''s associates rushing to see the Deputy''s widow (Papas) to give her the surprising news of the officers'' indictments.

An epilogue provides a synopsis of the subsequent turns of events. Instead of the expected positive outcome, the prosecutor is mysteriously removed from the case, key witnesses die under suspicious circumstances, the assassins receive (relatively) short sentences, the officers receive only administrative reprimands, the Deputy''s close associates die or are deported, and the photojournalist is sent to prison for disclosing official documents.

As the closing credits roll, before listing the cast and crew, the filmmakers first list the things banned by the junta. They include: peace movements, strikes, labor unions, long hair on men, The Beatles, other modern and popular music ("la musique populaire"), Sophocles, Leo Tolstoy, Aeschylus, writing that Socrates was homosexual, Eugène Ionesco, Jean-Paul Sartre, Anton Chekhov, Harold Pinter, Edward Albee, Mark Twain, Samuel Beckett, the bar association, sociology, international encyclopedias, free press, and new math. Also banned is the letter Z, which was used as a symbolic reminder that Grigoris Lambrakis and by extension the spirit of resistance lives (zi = "he (Lambrakis) lives").






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