Costa-Garvas opens his polarizing political masterpiece with an arresting statement that sets the tone for the rest of the film: “any resemblance to real events, to persons living or dead, is not accidental. It is DELIBERATE.” Right from the outset, you find yourself hooked and drawn into one of the most thrilling explorations of political corruption ever put on film. The influence of “Z” is still apparent today; everything from the documentary-like neorealist approach adopted in many films that followed, to the urgency and explosiveness of “Do the Right Thing” and the investigative structure of “JFK” and “Elite Squad: The Enemy Within”. With “Z”, Costa-Garvas single handedly established the modern political film.
The plot revolves around the planned killing of a left-wing politician during a demonstration. Even before his death gets announced, the government and army try to cover it all up in order to protect the image of their nation. Despite their clumsy efforts, the truth finds a way out under the curiosity of an investigative journalist who was there when it happened. This fast-paced, hard-hitting thriller is an exercise in courageous filmmaking. Costa-Garvas’ “Z” film exposes ugly truths and throttles forward with the efficiency of a sharpshooter.
It is such a shame that a film that holds up with so much relevancy is not not as widely discussed today as it was back when it was first released. “Z” should be essential viewing to every governmental official in every country around the world. This type of revolting cinema has the power to expose entire regimes and put governmental policies in place. The film’s true intentions are very clear. It calls for immediate change; it calls for a revolution.