Movies –” A Greek Tragicomedy: Costa-Gavras’s Z (1969) “

13 Nov

A Greek Tragicomedy: Costa-Gavras’s Z (1969)

How democracy dies

By Christopher Saunders (AllenbysEyes) ⋅ Posted on January 24th, 2015 at 6:32am ⋅ Last edit on January 26th, 2015
How democracy dies
How democracy dies
Christopher Saunders (AllenbysEyes)
Christopher Saunders (AllenbysEyes)
I’m afraid that you underestimate the number of subjects in which I take an interest!
Costa-Gavras’s lacerating satire of a country gone mad
We start with a dizzying montage: close-ups of military decorations, royal symbols, religious icons. All the emblems of reactionary order. Then we’re subjected to bizarre lectures by government officials, including a General (Pierre Dux) ranting about “mildew of the mind” and Communist agitation causing sunspots. “God casts no light on the Reds,” he comments, expounding on the need for society’s “antibodies” to combat leftists. The General’s audience seems as baffled as us, but no one contradicts him.

As if this weren’t jarring enough, next comes this title:

“Any resemblance to real events, or to people, alive or dead, is no coincidence. It is INTENTIONAL.”
Clearly, Z (1969) isn’t an ordinary thriller. Costa-Gavras’s film was a sensational hit, making over $14,000,000 internationally and winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. It also inspired generations of conspiracy dramas, from The Parallax View through JFK. But Costa-Gavras has something Alan Pakula and Oliver Stone lack: a sense of humor.

From the 1930s onward, Greece endured Ioannis Metaxas’s dictatorship, Nazi occupation during World War II, a brutal civil war and fractious democracy. In May 1963 two thugs killed Grigoris Lambrakis, a left-wing Parliamentary leader, following a protest in Thessaloniki. It emerged that his assassins had ties with high-ranking military and police officials. The resulting scandal destroyed Konstantinos Karamanlis’s government and fanned opposition protests. But it also strengthened the extreme right, who seized power in 1967.

Grigoris Lambrakis
Grigoris Lambrakis
These events inspired novelist Vassilis Vassilikos to pen Z, its title reflecting the pro-Lambrakis protest phrase Zei (“he lives”). Naturally the junta suppressed the novel, alongside subversive writings, dress style and music. Greece’s most prominent composer, Mikis Theodorakis, founded the Lambrakis Democratic Youth and served in Greece’s parliament. The junta jailed him and outlawed his music, arresting shop-owners who sold his records. Theodorakis got some revenge, penning Z’s defiant score while exiled to the village of Zatouna.

Mikis Theodorakis
Mikis Theodorakis
Vassiliko’s novel reached Konstantinos Gavras, a Greek-born filmmaker living in France. Costa-Gavras’s leftist father was arrested following the Civil War (1945-1949), Costa-Gavras himself barred from university: “I was a victim of the Cold War,” he recalled, traveling to France to study. He’d made a few minor films before 1969, but Z made Costa-Gavras a household name.

Costa-Gavras’s oeuvre probes governmental corruption and oppression. “We can’t not be involved” in politics, he comments. “By not taking a position, you take a position.” Later films include The Confession (1971), critiquing Eastern Bloc Communism; Missing (1982), set in Pinochet’s Chile; and Amen (2003), exploring Vatican complicity in the Holocaust. Yet Z’s blend of humor and immediacy makes it stand out.

Z never explicitly identifies its setting, with French actors, Algerian locations and generic characters: Yves Montand is “The Deputy,” Pierre Dux “The General”, Jean-Louis Trintignant “The Magistrate.” Costa-Gavras acknowledges the silliness: one scene features a close-up of Greece’s King Constantine, with his face cut out! But the setting couldn’t be anywhere but Greece – something we’re reminded of when Irene Papas materializes as The Deputy’s widow.

Yves Montand as The Deputy
Yves Montand as The Deputy
Z relishes humiliating its reactionary villains. The General rants about his “antibodies” purifying Greece through violence and intimidation. (If this seems overdone, compare to General Georgios Papadopolous comparing Greece to “a patient in a cast…We break the initial cast and…put another cast where is needed.”) At film’s end, he’s confronted by a reporter (Jacques Perrin) who compares him to Alfred Dreyfus. Incredulous, The General roars: “DREYFUS WAS GUILTY!” He makes Dr. Strangelove’s General Ripper seem well-adjusted.

American thrillers show a government with infinite resources to destroy evidence and silence witnesses. Z’s conspirators are remarkably crude: the Deputy’s murder is executed by two bumbling thugs Yago (Renato Salvatori) and Vago (Marcel Bozzuffi), who publicly club him. Later they try running a witness down in broad daylight; Vago sneaks into a hospital to finish someone off, grinning cheekily when caught! Greece’s New Order is built on such bozos.

Marcel Bozzuffi as Vago
Marcel Bozzuffi as Vago
Naturally, Z’s more nuanced depicting its heroes. After the Deputy’s death, his aides debate how to react. Should they mourn him or exploit his passing? Will the Deputy’s death instill sympathy or incite more violence? Greece’s youth spontaneously embraces the Deputy as a martyr: his death becomes an embarrassment for the government, who rush to cover up. The opposition realizes they need overwhelming evidence to prove official complicity.

Enter the Magistrate (Jean-Louis Trintignant). Bespectacled, clean-cut, son of a policeman, he’s reckoned an Establishment lackey who will abet the cover-up. Instead, he’s intrigued by inconsistent testimony (was the Deputy struck or did he hit the pavement?), insistent witnesses and everyone’s ties to an organization called CROC. At a key moment, he stops referring to the Deputy’s death as “the Incident” – now it’s “the murder.”

Jean-Louis Trintignant as the Magistrate
Jean-Louis Trintignant as the Magistrate
Modern viewers will recall Oliver Stone’s JFK (1992), which borrows the martyred politician, the prosecutor-hero and military conspirators – and, less defensibly, the demonic gay villains (Vago is a pederast). But Costa-Gavras isn’t content with Stone’s hazy conjecture. The Magistrate’s real-world analogue, Christos Sartzetakis, is a conservative who values law over politics. Accordingly, Trintignant isn’t a crusader but an objective analyst who can’t be bought, bullied or intimidated.

Thus follows a brilliant conclusion. The General smugly appeals to the Magistrate’s conscience. Soon the Magistrate serves indictments on Greece’s military establishment, unmoved by their threats of suicide or retribution. Costa-Gavras builds to a gleeful crescendo: officials march into the Magistrate’s office, receive sentence, then flee inquisitive reporters. Theodorakis’s triumphant score swells as bigger fish (evinced by their increased decorations) until the General’s snared too. Funny and karmic, it’s the perfect climax.

Pierre Dux as The General
Pierre Dux as The General
Then the gut-punch. Perrin’s journalist reveals that the perpetrators were acquitted or given light sentences: soon democracy dissolves, witnesses killed or disappeared, others jailed, the junta seizes power. Perrin’s replaced by another journalist who announces Perrin’s arrest! Finally, a list of things banned by the regime, from Sophocles to the Beatles to the letter Z. It’s a brilliant head-fake that crushes expectations. Exultation turns to disgust: the General’s mad pronouncements no longer seem funny. Now he’s in charge.

Defiant coda
Defiant coda
History vindicated Z’s protagonists. After seven years of brutal rule, student unrest and war on Cyprus finally toppled the Colonels. Prosecutor Christos Sartzetakis survived imprisonment and torture to become President in 1985. In recent years, Greece has experienced bumps – from its recent economic crisis to the rise of the far-right Golden Dawn – but remains steadfastly democratic. Sometimes, reality does have a happy ending.


#Nine –” Nine things I learned volunteering in the Calais refugee camp ” …

23 Oct
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Nine things I learned volunteering in the Calais refugee camp

I’m still in shock at how wrong my perception was of what a refugee is and what the ‘Jungle’ camp is like

I’m still not sure why I decided to go to northern France to volunteer at the refugee camp in Calais. I’m not political. I’m not an activist. I work three jobs in the fashion industry. I love makeup and fashion and am obsessed with all things celebrity. I am 26 and, except for a brief trip to the US, have never been outside Europe. But, like most people, I saw the photographs of little Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up on a beach. As I had some free time I just thought, Why not go over and help? So I contacted Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity.

What followed was the most eye-opening experience I have had. Most of my 53 fellow volunteers had political, activist or charity-work backgrounds; I must have been one of the few who walked into the camp with no idea of what to expect. I hope what I saw there might persuade even one other person to reconsider their view of what a refugee is and what the camp is like.

1: It’s not a jungle

The series of camps around Calais are known as the Jungle, but they certainly don’t look like one. What we’re talking about here is a small corner of France inhabited by about 4,000 people. It’s a crowded piece of land surrounded by six-metre-high barbed-wire fences. Playing football with some Sudanese guys, I felt as if I could have been in a shanty town in Mumbai. Britain and France spent €18 million building the fence around the camps. But the few toilets are left unemptied and overflowing.

2: There’s nothing to be afraid of

As we drove from the ferry to our hostel the night we arrived we saw hundreds of men walking through Calais towards the Channel Tunnel and, beyond it, England. I was almost in tears with fear. When I realised that the wine in the hostel was only €1.20 a glass, I drank quite a few, to help me sleep. One our first day in the camp I drove in with a builder. Men and women were shouting at us. I was shaking. When I got out I realised that they were shouting, “Welcome! Welcome!” Then they asked if they could help us build. Who knew? Refugees offering help, not looking for it.

3: It was actually quite safe

I spent the first day in camp with my iPhone practically padlocked to my knickers. I’d read about people being mugged for their phones and about how, if you were seen with one in your hand, men would fight over it to make a call. Within a couple of hours I knew I had nothing to worry about. At one point I dropped a €10 note on the ground. A stampede of guys fought about who would hand it back.

4: Refugees are generous In their eyes

we were guests and it was their responsibility to look after us. I had my first-ever cup of tea in the camp. I’ll probably never have a second anywhere – but under a tarpaulin, shielded from the rain and around a fire with some of my fellow volunteers and two guys from the camp, it became a really nice memory that I’ll keep forever.

5: Children live in the camp

I heard initially that it would be all men in the camp, but more and more women and children arrived, mainly from Syria, Sudan and Eritrea. I was taken aback by how seldom some of the children smiled, but I guess they’re used to volunteers coming in and out of their lives. At one point I was called into a tent that housed a family of three. The son, who was no more than a year old, was sick. He lay on the damp floor of the tent, staring into my eyes. I hope he gets out of there and gets to have a childhood that is even 10 per cent as privileged as mine was.

6: The food was delicious

I hadn’t thought it would be safe to eat in the Afghan restaurant run by a few guys in the camp. As there was neither sanitation nor hot water, I was sure I’d be vomiting for a week. How wrong was I? The food was so good that we ate there every day. I miss the rice and beans now I’m home. The camp also had a barber’s, a few shops selling basics such as water, cigarettes and chocolate, and a nightclub where everyone lets off steam. Living conditions are atrocious in the camp, so they’re making the most of what they have.

7: No one knows the difference between Ireland and Britain

At first I was livid about this, but when it dawned on me that I couldn’t find Sudan on a map I got over it. Listening to the stories of people living in the camp, it seems there are three main reasons that they’re heading for Britain. Number one: English is most of the refugees’ second language. Number two: many men in the camp already have families in Britain, where the family-reunification period is shorter than in many other European countries. Number three: Britain is considered a place of hope, where people from all over the world have been able to create lives for themselves and safely raise their families.

8: The camps are home to some seriously educated people

I met some Syrians who told me that they had two choices at home. They could enlist in the military to fight Islamic State or they could enlist in Islamic State itself. If that were my choice I’d leg it, too. Most people I spoke to in the camp were highly educated – hence the perfect English that meant I could talk with them – and just wanted to get to Britain to get decent jobs. I didn’t speak to everyone in the camp, and I’m sure that some have fewer skills to offer than others. I met one guy, a dentist, who promised to fix my teeth if he ever gets to Ireland. Fingers crossed. We also met builders, translators, doctors and engineers.

9: You can make a difference

It’s pretty easy to live with the idea that it’s impossible for one person to make a difference, especially in a crisis of such magnitude. But, collectively, our convoy had a huge impact on the camp. A lot of my friends have messaged to say things like, “The world needs more people like you.” I’m not exactly Mother Teresa, so I see no reason why they can’t be those people themselves. Be the change you wish to see in the world. The more you lead, the more people will follow. No matter what you believe in, stand up.

Holly Shortall blogs at;

You can find out more about volunteering at

#Movies — ” Woody Allen : «Plus on est dépressif, plus on séduit» “

21 Oct

Woody Allen : «Plus on est dépressif, plus on séduit»

  • Home CULTURE Cinéma
    • Par Olivier Delcroix
    • Mis à jour le 13/10/2015 à 18:01
    • Publié le 13/10/2015 à 15:55
Woody Allen et Joaquin Phoenix sur le tournage de «L'homme irrationnel»

INTERVIEW – À bientôt 80 ans, le réalisateur, dont le dernier film L’Homme irrationnel sort mercredi en salles, n’a rien perdu de son humour caustique.

Même s’il assure n’avoir dormi que trois heures, Woody Allen répond avec pertinence et humour aux questions posées à l’occasion de la présentation au Festival de Cannes de L’Homme irrationnel, avec Joaquin Phoenix et Emma Stone, qui sort mercredi en salles.

LE FIGARO. – Dans vos films, n’est-il pas étrange que vos héros déprimés attirent les plus belles jeunes filles?

Woody ALLEN. – Cela n’a rien d’étrange. C’est vrai. Mais laissez-moi vous dire que je n’ai rien inventé. Depuis Guerre et Paix de Tolstoï jusqu’à Stendhal dans Le Rouge et le Noir, c’est la grande affaire de la littérature. Il n’y a rien à faire, le thème central de toutes ces œuvres, c’est un homme au fond du gouffre qui fascine les femmes qu’il côtoie. C’est la première pierre angulaire que l’on retrouve dans tous les drames et dans toutes les comédies. L’autre pierre angulaire, c’est le complot, le meurtre. Voilà les premiers outils du dramaturge. La relation entre un homme et une femme se trouve naturellement au …

Cet article a été publié dans l’édition du Figaro du 14/10/2015 . 72% reste à lire.

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Figaro Digital

#WHI –“Living in: The world’s happiest places “….

16 Oct

1 Apr

28 Oct

  • The Old Town, Aarhus Denmark

    The Old Town, Aarhus

If, as Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina, happy families are all alike, what about happy countries?

The World Happiness Report, released in September 2013 by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, measured the wellbeing of residents in more than 150 countries, based on six key factors: GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity. The report found that happier people earn more in their lifetime, are more productive and are better citizens.

Interested in finding some happiness yourself? The following cities are in the world’s top five happiest countries, all of which are in northern Europe, including three in Scandinavia. Out of a possible high score of 10, the countries below received scores between 7.480 (Sweden) and 7.693 (Denmark). Canada missed the fifth spot by just a few thousandths of a point, coming in at 7.477.

Aarhus, Denmark
Denmark’s second city is on the east coast of Jutland, the country’s mainland area, 150km west of Copenhagen. Blessed with a large natural harbour, Aarhus has the largest container terminal in the country and an industrial waterfront, but also a recreational marina near the city centre where people can water ski and sail. Thousands of students arrive every year to attend a number of universities and colleges, keeping the oldest large city in Scandinavia one of the youngest demographically, while Aarhus’ museums, music festivals and outdoor theatres make the city culturally vibrant. Many of the young and young at heart spend time in the Vadestedet, a pedestrian area in the city centre along the Aarhus River filled with shops, outdoor cafes and restaurants. The Latin Quarter is the city’s oldest district, with narrow streets and medieval houses, while the Isberget (The Iceberg), the city’s newest residential development, was built on the northern end of the harbour and designed so all the apartments have stunning sea views.

Finding an apartment is competitive, especially when students start their terms in August and December, and many landlords ask for a deposit of several months’ rent. Areas around the city centre are perennially popular for their proximity to stores, restaurants and nightlife. North of the centre, trendy Trøjborg attracts artists, students and other creative types. A property in the city centre costs 25,000 Danish krone per square metre, while a three-bedroom flat in the centre rents for between 8,000 and 10,000 DKK per month. Outside the centre, a property costs 22,000 DKK per square metre, and three-bedroom flat starts at around 6,500 DKK.

Oslo, Norway
The quietest of the Scandinavian capitals, Oslo is also arguably the closest to nature, sitting at the northern end of Oslofjord and backed by forests and mountains. But the city is also big on culture, from its numerous music festivals to the refurbished Ekeberg Park, a public sculpture park that opened in September 2013 containing works by Louise Bourgeois as well as Rodin and Renoir. Downtown is buzzing with new restaurants, bars, clubs and shops, while the stunning Oslo Opera House is the type of world-class architecture people travel to see. With the Norwegian economy being pumped along by its oil industry and the strong Norwegian krone, Oslo is consistently ranked among the most expensive cities in the world.

A popular district just west of the city centre is Frogner, which stretches from the harbourfront to the Royal Palace and Frogner Park, home to the Vigeland Sculpture Park and Museum, which attracts more than a million visitors every year to see its more than 200 outdoor sculptures. The housing stock includes small apartment buildings and townhouses, and the area has many restaurants, boutiques, galleries and green spaces. Two locales on Frogner’s seafront are particularly desirable, according to Lief Laugen, president and CEO of Krogsveen real estate. “Aker Brygge is an old wharf completely rebuilt with hundreds of apartments and restaurants, bars, cinemas and office buildings,” Laugen said. And Tjuvholmen is a new high-end development and cultural quarter that is home to number of apartment buildings from top Scandinavian architects, the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art designed by Renzo Piano, a swimming beach, shops and offices.

#Happiness –” Résultat : la Norvège arrive en tête toutes catégories confondues …”

16 Oct

Résultat : la Norvège arrive en tête toutes catégories confondues, suivis de la Suisse, du Danemark, de la Suède et des Pays-Bas.


Jeunes/Etres Humains : le classement des pays où il fait bon vivre

Dans quel pays fait-il bon vivre quand on est un être humain/

jeune ? C’est la question à laquelle le think tank français Youthonomics a voulu répondre en réalisant son propre classement publié aujourd’hui. Et à ce sujet, la France est loin d’être la plus attractive.

Pour réaliser ce classement, Youthonomics a comparé la situation actuelle des jeunes et leurs perspectives dans 64 pays en utilisant 59 critères différents tels que l’éducation, l’emploi ou encore le bien-être.

Les pays nordiques en tête du classement

Résultat : la Norvège arrive en tête toutes catégories confondues, suivis de la Suisse, du Danemark, de la Suède et des Pays-Bas. L’Australie est 6e, et les Etats-Unis 13ème. La France, elle, n’est que 19ème.

Plus spécifiquement,  la Norvège est aussi première concernant le bien-être, tandis que côté emploi, c’est la Suisse qui se hisse en haut du palmarès, devant l’Allemagne. Là encore, la France est loin derrière (42e).

L’Afrique : continent optimiste

Contrairement à ce que l’on pourrait penser, ce n’est pas dans les pays riches que les jeunes sont les plus confiants en l’avenir, mais en Afrique. Les plus optimistes sont les Ougandais, les Ivoiriens  et les Kényans.

A titre de comparaison, la France arrive 51 sur 64 dans ce domaine. Comme le précise Felix Marquardt de Youthonomics, au Figaro : “Les pays d’Afrique comme sont des pays où il y a une croissance importante et où les choses vont dans la bonne direction et parfois, on se rend compte qu’il vaut mieux être dans un pays où les choses sont difficiles mais où on a le sentiment qu’on peut aller dans la bonne direction plutôt que dans des pays où la vie est plus facile mais complètement bloquée

#Thoreau– ” The slave-ship is on her way, crowded with its dying victims …” (Plea for Captain John Brown )

10 Oct

Plea for Captain John Brown [Thoreau]

“The slave-ship is on her way, crowded with its dying victims; new cargoes are being added in mid-ocean; a small crew of slaveholders, countenanced by a large body of passengers, is smothering four millions under the hatches, and yet the politician asserts that the only proper way by which deliverance is to be obtained is by “the quiet diffusion of the sentiments of humanity,” without any “outbreak.” As if the sentiments of humanity were ever found unaccompanied by its deeds, and you could disperse them, all finished to order, the pure article, as easily as water with a watering-pot, and so lay the dust. What is that that I hear cast overboard? The bodies of the dead that have found deliverance. That is the way we are “diffusing” humanity, and its sentiments with it.”

                         A PLEA FOR CAPTAIN JOHN BROWN
                             by Henry David Thoreau

Henry David THOREAU

” Le navire négrier est en route chargé de ses victimes mourantes ; en plein océan on lui ajoute de nouvelles cargaisons ; l’équipage, une poignée de propriétaires d’esclaves, soutenu par les nombreux passagers, asphyxie quatre millions d’êtres enfermés à fond de cale, et pourtant le politicien veut nous faire croire que le seul moyen convenable de délivrer les victimes et de «diffuser peu à peu des sentiments d’humanité». Comme si les sentiments d’humanité se rencontraient jamais séparés des actes d’humanité et que l’on puisse les répandre en quantités convenables (le produit authentique !), aussi facilement que l’on arrose le sol pour abattre la poussière. Qu’est-ce donc que j’entends jeter par-dessus bord ? Ce sont les cadavres de ceux qui ont trouvé la délivrance. C’est ainsi que nous diffusons l’humanité et les sentiments d’humanité avec.”

Traduction de Christine Demorel et Laurence Vernet
Éditions JJ Pauvert
Libertés nouvelles 2,  1977

#Blogs –Some changes in 2015-16 –RVW and our Blogs …– and THE Best Places to Start a Blog (Updated 2015 Edition)

8 Oct

Some changes in 2015-16 –RVW and our Blogs …(suivi sur ces Blogs )

Some changes in 2015 –RVW and our Blogs …(suivi sur ces Blogs cet automne)

Il y a une paire de blogs qui sont actifs dont celui-ci: sur Rimbaud:(my favorite w/ Une Tasse de Café)

Le Cirque Loisset –Rimbaud en Suède ...**

Reminder: All of Our Blogs are compilations, citations; hence, you will find very little I myself write (10% -Not. Not even 1%; we may reproduce some article, in its entirety; but, soon enough, you will find the link only …_______________

(will be updated)
Une Tasse de Café in Paris **

The Language Coop on paper li:

Le Journal du Pauvre

Le Syndrome d’Avatar

4.74 (Job ads, only Jobs –few of them: we are not an agency; this is a pro bono service)

Gerthur Kristny –(Trying to Understand Life, Poetry and Gerthur Kristny)

( certains Blogs ne sont plus trop actifs … /Some of Those Blogs are not too active lately … celui sur la ‘ Guerre en Ukraine ‘ & sur ‘ le Referendum grec ‘–OXI). Les Blogs vont et viennent –c’est la vie: I hope to be able to start a Wbsite , which would be comprehensive.

et al.

and of course go to :

Such a long Trip /” Un si long Voyage “


THE Best Places to Start a Blog (Updated 2015 Edition)