Hilary Neroni
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The political efficacy of torture in The Confession (1970)
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The depiction of torture in Costa-Gavras’s The Confession (1970) reveals the brutal methods employed by the government during the 1951 Slánský trial, one of several show trials in Communist Czechoslovakia. The film straightforwardly argues that the government tortured the defendants in order to extract the confessions that they wanted, and it exposes the incredible violence of the interrogation methods. This film resolutely presents torture as a coercive and humiliating method that the Communists employed to force people into fake confessions. For Costa-Gavras, however, this depiction of torture leads to a revelation about the failings of the Communist Party and then more broadly leads to a larger argument about the moment at which political regimes as such fail.

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