Z (1969)



Director:  Costa-Gavras.

Starring: Yves Montand  (the Deputy), Irene Papas (Helene, the Deputys wife), Jean-Louis Trintignant (examining magistrate), Jacques Perrin (photojournalist), Charles Denner (Manuel), François Périer (Public Prosecutor), Pierre Dux (the General), Georges Géret (Nick), Bernard Fresson (Matt), Marcel Bozzuffi (Vago), Julien Guiomar (the Colonel), Magali Noël (Nick's Sister), Renato Salvatori (Yago), Clotilde Joano (Shoula).



Very good movie.  A political thriller based on the 1963 killing of liberal Greek senator and peace activist Gregorios Lambrakis, who shook the stability of the government in power.  The Greek military was none to pleased by the actions of Lambrakis.  Director Costa-Gavras railed against military corruption.  By the time the movie came out, the military had come to power.

Well, they call this a political thriller.  But it seemed to me when I was watching it that I already knew what happened: the military regime killed him.  If you live in a military dictatorship, it goes without saying, that the whole regime is organized to keep the dictatorship in place.  Right-wing dictatorships deny free speech, an independent media, basic judicial rights, etc.  So the movie was not a thriller to me at all.  What was interesting was the process the inquest judge went through to uncover just who did what in the assassination. 

I guess the only question was: will the military permit the case even to be prosecuted against part of their regime.  The ending did not really surprise me either given the fact that the military was so active in Greek politics.  But the forces of justice actually did better than I expected.  So that is some consolation I guess.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


Historical Background:


1952  --  Greece became a member of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

1953-1963  --  Greece was governed by conservative parties:  the Greek Rally of Marshal Alexander Papagos and the National Radical Union (ERE) of Constantine Karamanlis.

1963  --  the Center Union Party of George Papandreou elected. 

1965 (July)  --  King Constantine II dismissed George Papandreou, that caused a constitutional crisis.  A group of July apostates, led by Konstantinos Mitsotakis, helped bring down Papandreou in favor of the King. What followed was a succession of unstable coalition governments formed by the King.

1967 (April 21)  --  Colonel George Papadopoulos led a military coup establishing the Regime of he Colonels.  This brought misery to Greece: repression of civil liberties, dissolution of political parties, the establishment of special military courts, and the imprisonment or exile to remote Greek islands of several thousand suspected political opponents.

Naturally, the US gave its support to the dictatorship. 

1973 (November 17)  --  the bloody suppression of the Athens Polytechnic uprising gave rise to popular unrest. 

1973 (November 25)  --  General Dimitrios Ioannides replaced Papadopoulos.

1974 (July)  --  Ioannides tried to overthrow Archbishop Makarios, the President of Cyprus.  This brought Greece and Turkey to the brink of war.  Turkey invaded and occupied Cyprus. Dissatisfied senior Greek military officers then toppled the junta. 

Karamanlis returned from exile in France. 

1974 (November)  --  Karamanlis' newly organized party, New Democracy, won the elections.  Karamanlis became prime minister.

1974  -- a referendum abolished the monarchy.

1975 (June 19)  --  a new constitution approved by parliament.   Constantine Tsatsos became the President of the republic.

1977  --  New Democracy again won a majority of seats in parliament.

1980 (May)  --  Karamanlis elected President.  George Rallis became Prime Minister.

1981 (January 1)  --  Greece joined the European Community (today's European Union).

1981 (October 18)  --  Greece elected a socialist government, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) led by Andreas Papandreou. 

1985 (March 29)  --  Supreme Court Justice Christos Sartzetakiks elected president by the parliament.

1989  --  parliamentary elections produced weak coalition governments.

1990 (April 8)  --   New Democracy (ND), led by Constantine Mitsotakis, won the election.

1992  --  Mitsotakis dismissed his first Foreign Minister, Antonis Samaras, who then formed his own political party, Political Spring.  The ND government collapsed. 

1993 (September)  --  the elections returned Papandreou to power.

1996 (January 17)  --  because of illness, Papandreou resigned. The former Minister of Industry Costas Simitis becomes Prime Minister.

1996  --  Simitis won the election.

2000  --  Simitis retired.  George Andreas Papandreou succeeded him as PASOK leader.

2004 (March)  --   PASOK was defeated by New Democracy, led by Costas Caramanlis, the nephew of the former President.



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