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Z (The Criterion Collection)

92 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A pulse-pounding political thriller, Greek expatriate director Costa-Gavras’s Z was one of the cinematic sensations of the late sixties, and remains among the most vital dispatches from that hallowed era of filmmaking. This Academy Award winner—loosely based on the 1963 assassination of Greek left-wing activist Gregoris Lambrakis—stars Yves Montand as a prominent politician and doctor whose public murder amid a violent demonstration is covered up by military and government officials; Jean-Louis Trintignant is the tenacious magistrate who’s determined not to let them get away with it. Featuring kinetic, rhythmic editing, Raoul Coutard’s expressive vérité photography, and Mikis Theodorakis’s unforgettable, propulsive score, Z is a technically audacious and emotionally gripping masterpiece.


• New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard

• Audio commentary featuring film historian Peter Cowie

• New interviews with Costa-Gavras and Coutard

• Archival interviews with Costa-Gavras; producer-actor Jacques Perrin; actors Yves Montand, Irène Papas, and Jean-Louis Trintignant; and Vassilis Vassilikos, author of the book Z

• Theatrical trailer

• New and improved English subtitle translation

• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Armond White

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Maurice Baquet, Jean Bouise, Marcel Bozzuffi, Gérard Darrieu, Jean Dasté
  • Directors: Costa-Gavras
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: October 27, 2009
  • Run Time: 127 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002IVDLH8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,540 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Z (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

115 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 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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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful By A. Hogan VINE VOICE on February 6, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Z is a political thriller with few action scenes,none of the "thrills" associated with conevntional thrillers. The Murder takes place fairly early on,and it is obvious who is respnosible. The thrill is in the dogged investigation by an incorruptible magistrate{interesting comparison to Stones's JFK},which leads to the highest seats of government. Based on a terrific novel by Vassilis Vassilikos{and an excellent screenplay by Jorge Semprun},this tells the story of the murder of the Greek parliamentarian and doctor Gregory Lambrakis.That it was a political assasination is obvious,though the complicity is so multilayered that it appears that the truth will never come out. Yves Montand is ,as usual, excellent as Lambrakis [referred to as Z throughout the film.Z comes from the Greek verb zei, HE LIVES} Irene Pappas is his suffering wife{and widow}. Costa-Gavras travelled this territory often, {the Confession, Missing} though not with this brilliance. The editing is crsip,leading to the sense of breathlessness among the defendents. I will leave the ending to the viewer.This is probably the best political thriller that I have ever seen, and 31 years later,is till excellent,if not brilliant
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 3, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
It starts out by saying: "Any similarity to actual persons or events is deliberate" and goes on to tell an intricate, absorbing story.
From 1969, this political thriller stands up as a brilliantly crafted film, helped by an extraordinary cast, great editing, and a marvelous Mikis Theodorakis soundtrack.
What an amazing ensemble of actors ! Yves Montand is fabulous, also the beautiful Irene Papas, Charles Denner, Jacques Perrin, and so many more...but the real hero of this film is Jean-Lois Trintignant. He is magnificent, and the subtleties of his performance riveting.
I don't think you have to subscribe to the politics espoused in this film to appreciate its greatness. It stands as a work of art, and I think Costa-Gavras' finest film.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 13, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
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. I was dazed by the film when it ended. The scene of which when President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 also floated in my mind. This is a very very power film and you will feel you want to do something after you have seen it. The music by Theodorakis was just too good and it helped to strengthen what Costa-Gavra was trying to put across. The film came out at a right place and at a right time!
I hope DVD manufacturers will pick this up and turn it in to a collector's item. It is very much worth keeping even to show it to your grand children!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sheila Bloom on September 29, 2006
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I have seen this movie untold number of times since it first came out. I first saw it in NYC in 1969 and it was the first movie where the audience applauded at the end. This was a time of activism on the part of the young people and even older people against racism and the war in Vietnam (unlike today where kids only care about their ipods, etc.) and this film hit a nerve. The Greeks, unlike Americans, have a long attention span and still hold a grudge against the American support of the dictatorship in Greece (so do I). To understand the present you must know the past and this is still an important picture. Just look at the present administration with its lies, deceptions, preemptive wars, and meddling in foreign affairs, mainly propping up corrupt and dirty leaders.

I have an older VHS version (when it first came out) but it has English subtitles in white, making it almost impossible to read at times. However, after seeing the movie about 20 times when it first came out and watching it many more times on video, I can pretty well understand what is going on.

I have read the book (still have the original paperback released when the movie came out) plus Theodorakis' soundtrack (written while he was under house arrest).

Extraordinary and timely film. Not to be missed.
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