One week after the inauguration and we’ve already seen inspiring demonstrations and alarming decision making. While the future is still unpredictable, James Parrish and Terry Rea of the Bijou Film Center hope to bring a community together with their “Facing Fascism” film series.
While they started by showing comedies like “The Great Dictator” and “Amarcord”, the two decided this past weekend was the time to show what Fascism really looks like. Enter 1969’s French political thriller “Z”, a scathing indictment of political corruption that is still as terrifyingly relevant as it was forty years ago.
The plot, based on an actual event in Greece from the 1960’s, follows an investigation into the death of a leftist political member running for government. As the investigation gets closer to the truth, it becomes clear that the government was heavily involved in the assassination and are who are also trying to stop the investigation at all costs.
Before the film, Rea talked to me about “Z” and described it as “A French Columbo with no brakes, it propels from one scene to the next.” It’s also one of his personal favorites, and as he describes it, “When I walked out, I wanted to join a revolution, I was so fired up.” I could not agree with him more. The film works as an engrossing thriller and an infuriating look at politics that could easily inspire a movement.
The tension of the investigation comes from seeing the investigators put the pieces together and hopefully seeing the guilty get justice. The editing and cinematography do a great job at creating this atmosphere, keeping the pace and camera constantly moving as if the audience is surveying the situation. There are also fast cuts used to cleverly explain character backgrounds or visualize what suspects are explaining.
What is most impressive about the film is how unwavering it is in its message of standing against sudo-fascist governments, and how difficult that is in reality. While average people are the ones who committed the murder, we discover that they’re just normal citizens steeped in poverty, seduced by financial security in order to commit this terrible deed. This kind of two-sided representation is seen throughout the film, making sure the right and the left are not at fault.
In the end, the untrustworthy government is the ultimate villain, maintaining the film’s rebellious nature that it started with, boldly stating that any connections to real persons or events are intentional. What’s frightening is how many of the officials’ tactics seem similar to the type of corruption we’re seeing in America today and that’s what makes “Z” such an effective film.
In terms of the Bijou, Parrish and Rea still have big plans for the Film Center. “We want to play a role in the community,” said Rea , and he hopes that events like this one will “create a situation where people go home, feeling inspired by what they were apart of and inspire them to do something positive for their city.”
Samuel Goodrich, Staff Writer