Minutes before he’s to deliver an anti-nuke speech to a public crowd, pro-democracy scientist Zei (Montand) is brutally attacked by right-wing extremists with close ties to the authoritarian Greek government. His death sparks a scandal, a contentious trial, and the formation of a military coup dedicated to suppressing peaceful protests and the evidence presented by an intrepid photojournalist (Perrin).
Based on the real-life assassination of peace activist, Gregoris Lambrakis, in 1963, Costa-Gavras’s extraordinary thriller, benefits from a tense, claustrophobic atmosphere and note-perfect performances. Sweeping us from the streets of discontent to the corrupt corridors of government power, “Z” is a visceral, nerve-wracking courtroom drama whose kinetic energy puts us right in the action. It delivers a still-shocking exposé of anti-democratic cover-ups and martial violence in our not-so-distant past. A landmark in world cinema.