Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Ides of April

I can never say enough good things about both versions of Z -- either Vassilis Vassilikos' 1966 novel or Costa-Gavras' film adaption, released in 1969. The combination of intrigue, assassination, coverup, investigation and crackdown all set within an exciting and clearly articulated social, economic and political milieu permanantly shaped the tone for my worldview. If they're not the greatest such works of all time, they've certainly had the deepest influence on me. What more can you ask from two paired masterworks? I keep two English translation copies of the novel and one copy of the DVD (French with various subtitles, including English) in my small personal library -- because they never fail to buoy my spirits.

From the back cover of the Bantam Books 1969 paperback edition:

Needle-sharp and harsh as a documentary, Z is based on an actual murder -- the political assasination of a celebrated Greek patriot and pacifist -- and the subsequent investigation by a . . . young [government] attorney who followed the trail of responsibility and guilt to the highest levels of a ruthless military regime. Vassilis Vassilikos has dared to expose the story of a political murder and corruption in a novel charged with anger, passion, and mounting suspense.

Quoting the New York Times Book Review: Shattering validity, exciting reading . . . This haunting semi-documentary . . . racing in and among what seems to be half the population of Salonika [Greece], is exhilaratingly wide-ranging and cinematic in the best sense of the word . . . Vassilikos's gifts are dazzling.

Flashed on the screen during Z, the movie:

Concurrently, the military banned long hair on males; mini-skirts; Sophocles; Tolstoy; Euripides; smashing glasses after drinking toasts; labor strikes; Aristophanes; Ionesco; Sartre; Albee; Pinter; freedom of the press; sociology; Beckett; Dostoyevsky; modern music; popular music; the new mathematics; and the letter "Z", which in ancient Greek means "He is alive!"



Today's Rune: Partnership.

Birthdays: Leonardo da Vinci, Émile Durkheim, Bessie Smith, Elizabeth Montgomery, Claudia Cardinale, Dave Edmunds.

Andio sas!

3 comments:

the walking man said...

Erik thank you for the comment an the ind words you left behind when you visited my blog. I have been out of commission lately due to a car accident and don't think I'll be matching the work published on that forum in march.

I Like your blog and the very truth of it in black and white for everyone to see and research for themselves.

Peace

TWM aka Mark

Edward J. Blum said...

Good day,
I enjoyed your blog discussion on W. E. B. Du Bois, and I wanted to let you know
that I have a religious biography of him coming out from the University of
Pennsylvania Press in a month.
http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/
14316.html I actually address the question of his links to Communism (and
those of other African American leaders). I was uncertain of how to post to your
blog, but feel free to include my email. And if you ever get the chance to check
out my book, please let me know what you think. Oh, and feel free to let your
pals know.

Best, Edward J. Blum

***************************

Edward J. Blum
Department of History
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr.
San Diego, CA 92182

Charles Gramlich said...

Banned Mini-skirts? Mein gott, the inhumanity.