Elizabeth Montes Garcés
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Thriller and performance in State of Siege (1972)
in The films of Costa-Gavras
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Costa-Gavras’s State of Siege (1972) deals with the kidnapping, trial, and assassination of American OPS (Office of Public Safety) agent Philip Michael Santore (Yves Montand) by the MLN-Tupamaro guerrillas in Uruguay in 1970. Based on the true story of the execution of Daniel Anthony Mitrione by the Tupamaros on 10 August 1970, the film is structured as a political thriller. Costa-Gavras uses what Richard Schechner has called ‘twice-behaved behaviors’ by re-enacting historical events on the screen dealing with the US intervention in Uruguay in the 1960s and 1970s. In doing so, the Greek-French film director forces the audience to reflect on the use of torture as a means of getting crucial information from members of guerrilla groups to guarantee success in counter-insurgency operations, and to question the effectiveness of violence as a means of advancing a political cause.

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