Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
rob + = email

2010 May 10 • Monday

Costa-Gavras's Z includes a message to the audience that "Any similarity to actual events or persons living or dead is not coincidental. It is intentional".

It is perhaps not a coincidence, then, that Yves Montand's character, a pacifist/disarmament movement leader referred to as the Deputy, is supposed to have his rally in a movie theatre.

The cinema owner, presumably being used by the military/police who conspire to assassinate the Deputy, reneges on his deal with the Deputy's people.

Are the Americans (CIA) involved? American influence is certainly apparent in the scene where the cinema owner and one of the Deputy's people argue about this.

The poster glimpsed in the shot below is, I think, for the movie Hotel.

The police in Z try to disguise their murder of Z as a hit-and-run accident. Hotel involves, among other things, a cover up of a hit and run committed by members of a royal family and a corporate takeover of the hotel.

The plot to kill the deputy won't work unless the rally is forced to move from the movie theatre. Making sure everything goes according to plan is this mysterious guy with a Look magazine.

"America's Concentration Camps" is on the front cover. According to Wikipedia, Look enjoyed its highest circulation in 1969, the same year that Z came out.

This also might be Costa-Gavras's way of telling the audience to "look" carefully at what's about to happen on the screen—the assassination scene is shown from different points of view—and to look at what's happening around you after the movie is over.

(It might also be meant to remind us of Encounter magazine, whose editor resigned in 1967 because of rumors that the CIA money was bankrolling it. The rumors were true. You can read about this on the CIA's own website.)

Look competed with Life for readers. In the scene where an anonymous informant attempts to warn the Deputy that an attempt on his life will take place, the informant keeps his fist clenched—a familiar protest symbol—while flanked by Elvis and other sexy American images on one side and Life magazine, with the Republic of Biafra on the cover, on the other.

On the other end of the phone, the Deputy's people stand in front of Picasso. Fine art (idealism) contrasting with tawdry commercial "culture" (greed)?

When right wing thugs attack the disarmament demonstrators, they tear away a peace sign to reveal a poster for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

A beaten pacifist ends up on top of it.

Z has great music by Mikis Theodorakis. It's the 112th Soundtrack of the Week.

Theodorakis was under house arrest in Greece while Costa-Gavras was making the movie in Algeria and unable even to read a script for the movie. (Read about this and Theodorakis's interesting life here on Wikipedia. Apparently he was tortured and buried alive—twice.) He was therefore unable to compose a score for the movie but gave Costa-Gavras permission to use any of his previously produced music.

It's great music, from the pulsating and driving main title to more traditional-sounding Greek vocal numbers. One piece, "To Yelasto Pedi", gets work outs in several different versions. There's great bouzouki playing on many of the album tracks.

Pounding music for a chase scene is a highlight, and "Cafe Rock", a pschedelic freak out with clanging bells and fuzz guitar (with kind of an awesome train wreck feel) is awesome.

Perhaps my favorite piece is "Batucada", a short, menacing cue for percussion ensemble. Percussion instruments are used especially well throughout. It's great music for a great movie.