In this collection of new essays, issues emerge that open up numerous innovative approaches to Costa-Gavras’s career, among them: contemporary theories of adaptation, identity politics, reception, and affect, as well as his assessment of twentieth- and twenty-first-century political disorder. Costa-Gavras recontextualizes political history as individual human dramas and thereby involves his audience in past and contemporary traumas, from the horrors of the Second World War through mid-century international totalitarianism to the current problems of immigration and the global financial crisis. In order to capture the feeling of a political era, Costa-Gavras employs cinematic techniques from La Nouvelle Vague for his early films, documentary-like re-enactments for crucial moments of political tension of his renowned thrillers, and state-of-the-art aesthetics and technology for his latest ventures. The first half of this collection focuses upon the first twenty years of Costa-Gavras’s career, especially his development of the political thriller, the second half of this collection explores the past thirty years of his very productive filmic, thematic, and genre experiments. Costa-Gavras remains one of film’s enduring storytellers, theorists, and political commentators.
Costa-Gavras and microhistoriography: the case of Amen. (2002)
Homer B. Pettey
I think the next step for the cinema will be to go to that new kind of film, one which tries to explain the historical situation and all the connections which lead to that kind of history.
Exactness – accuracy – is impossible, given the time and space in which historical events take place and the time a film has available. But faithfulness to the ethic, to the human meaning, to the social significance of the historical events depicted in a film is absolutely necessary.
Some films focus on telling stories, others on creating worlds. Many of Costa-Gavras's films share a third focus broadly implied by their status as agitprop: to foster in their target audience a critical skepticism about institutions of political power – the Greek government in Z (1969), the Czech Communist Party in The Confession (1970), the leaders of the United States Aid for International Development (USAID) in Uruguay in State of Siege (1972). Missing (1982), Costa-Gavras's first American film, carries a more specific charge borrowed from its
Constantin Costa-Gavras's cinematic career has been dedicated to stories of political, social, and personal corruption in a body of work that defines the ‘political fiction film’, as John Michalczyk has termed it. 1 Across that oeuvre, ranging (non-chronologically) from Amen. to Z , twice Costa-Gavras has veered into comic territory. Conseil de famille (1986) and La petite apocalypse (1993) bookend Betrayed (1988) and Music Box (1989) , two films about the invisibility of evil within the family. These two comedies, by contrast, work in
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. Revisiting this film uncovers a significant historical difference with our contemporary debate about torture, which revolves around whether torture
maintain that the ‘only way for organizations to succeed in today's interdependent world is [… by …] operating a business that earns a profit while recognizing and supporting the economic and noneconomic needs of a wide range of stakeholders on whom the organization depends’. 5 Such companies reverse the downward capitalistic spiral Partridge describes by embracing what Fry and Nisiewicz deem conscious capitalism.
One can see Costa-Gavras making some of these same appeals in his films over the last quarter-century. Three films in particular, Mad City (1997
Hanna K. (1983) and the Palestinian ‘permission to narrate’
At the very center of Constantin Costa-Gavras's Hanna K. (1984) are the themes of Palestinian loss, exile, and dispossession. Palestinian attempts to return to a lost homeland and Zionism's refusal to even entertain those attempted returns because they pose an existential threat to the legitimacy of the Jewish state come into sharp relief. The Palestinian Right of Return refers to the now, perhaps wishful, hope that those Palestinians who were expelled from Israel prior to its creation in 1948 will be able to return to reclaim their lost homes and property. Given
Constantin Costa-Gavras' State of Siege (1972) 1 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
We must admit, once and for all … that cinema, politically oppositional or not, is politics.
With Z (1969), Costa-Gavras created a nationalist response to the decade-long political abuses in Greece. Thematically, Z concerns conflicting tenets about left-wing and right-wing nationalism and their struggles for political dominance in Greece during the 1960s. The film also alludes to nationalistic upheavals and assassinations occurring in the contemporary Cold War world of the 1960s. Z , an adaptation of
Justice unravelled, a tale of two Frances (1941 and 1943)
, handing out anti-German leaflets, etc.), but who will now be re-tried for these same offences which, under the new law, render them liable to the death sentence. Thus, the moral fibre of the Resistance passes under scrutiny in the first film, the cowardice and mendacity of the French judiciary in the second.
Two core Costa-Gavras's themes, history and the concept of justice, are confronted in both these films. Indeed, Un homme de trop marks the beginning, Section spéciale the end of the filmmaker's first cycle of political cinema – ‘made in France’. As such