Costa-Gavra''s Academy Award winning film Z is one of the greatest political thrillers of all time. Z was released in 1969 which was the end of a bleak decade of great political violence and of drastic culture changes along with the public's heightened feelings of doubt and paranoia of their very own governments. Z is about a political assassination and isn't necessarily a 'whodunit' but more a 'how it was done,' making an interesting contrast to the domestic security breaches of the real life assassinations of Martin Luther King, President John F. Kennedy and Malcolm X. Z is no more about Greece as The Battle of Algiers was about Algeria, as its portrayal of military cover ups and corrupted government power are fascinating parallels to the Lai massacre, the Bay of Pigs or Richard Nixon and The Watergate scandal; and when witnessing the conspiracy start to unravel and the truth finally get exposed, it will make you shocked, angry and even furious at how us human beings could create such an important system of law, to than just see it be systematically torn down from the inside for our own personal gain.
Most of the suspense that comes from Z comes from a chase: Not through the streets but through a maze of facts, alibis and official corruption. When this film was first shown at the San Francisco Film Festival, it was attacked in some quarters as being anti-American, which is interesting when all the film is addressing is only the simple truths of the corruption of military governments. Z exposes just about everything that is wrong with the flaws of political government which include bribed witnesses and alibis, purely fabricated events and scenarios, rewritten statements and reports, death threats and physical attacks, political activism, corrupted military coups, rallies and riot outbreaks during demonstrative speeches; and the murder and cover up of a passionate political speaker, whose murder goes beyond the everyday ignorant extremist and rises up the military ranks to not only the Chief of military police, but to the Attorney General as well.