April 13, 1970 The N. C. Essay Page 2
B1 MIKE FERGUSON
Of all the films over the last
year or so which have proclaimed
topicality (The Graduatej Goodbye
ColvxrbuSi Easy Rider‘s Alice's Res
taurant ^ Mediim Cooljy None have
succeeded with the power and inten
sity as Costa-Gavaras' jolting Z.
These other films generalize "current"
events, and become, for the most
part, woefully out of focus: The
Graduate was a slick look at the
middle-class college kid in the
early '60’s; "Columbus" goes back to
the late*50's to explore sexual
morality in upheavel; Easy Rider,
for all its realism, presents charac
ters who were most noticeable in the
mid-'60's, at the beginning of
Haight-Ashbury; Alice's Restaurant
zooms in on not the Woodstock Gen
eration, but the pre-Dylan folk crowd
at Cambridge; and Medium Cool struck
me as too much of a soap opera to be
topical. Only Z has truthfully and
realistically come down on the issues
of the day.
Z succeeds because it presents
in striking manner a situation which
is immediate and ultimately universal.
True, the film deals with the Greek
government, but in a fashion which
parlays events in that country into
a frightening parallel with the U.S.
and other political and social dis
third album, is another development
of her musical talents. She feels
more confident in this album than the
previous two. They were shakey
and quizical, as if asking, "will
they accept me?" Also, the accom
paniment understands and supports
her instead of contradicting her as
before. Obviously, extra rehearsing
and re-taping pays off.
Her musical growth is astounding.
As a fifteen-year-old in the Bronx,
Miss Nyro sang with a Puerto Rican
street band. Her teen years she claims
were "unhappy", and poetry comforted
her. Eventually the two abilities
gelled. At twenty-two, she now-
creates poetic lyrics for her own
Fortunately her subject matters
are her familiarities. We know
that Miss Nyro sings from the inside
out never super-imposing a subject.
Her emotions flow out instinctively,
they are not uncommon for a woman
her age, but more intensified.
When the feelin is of pain, it is
acute pain, either by the sharpness
of words, shrill voice, or both.
The film concerns a political
uprising. Disgusted.by the old guard
political and police.domination, a
new liberal force tries to overturn
the existing structure. Yves Montand
turns in a concise and powerful por
trayal as the leader of the movement.
And the similarity between his
character and our own (fallen) leaders
the Kennedys and Martin Luther King -
are apparent and presumably inten
tional. Montand's creation is some
thing of a combination of these
figures, with a dash of Adali Ste
At the peak of his popularity
and force, the leader is assassin
ated at a political rally. The
scene is strengthened by the grimly
depicted street struggles between
supporters of the two rival fac
tions, an insightful view of revo
lution at work.
The film then penetrates on
the efforts of those who followed
Z (the assassinated figure) to
keep up the revolution, the investi
gation to determine Z's death, and
the horrific results.
Costa-Gavaras' direction is
artfuland flawless (almost falling
into slickness, but never quite
succombing). A chief investigator
is brought in to examine the death
of Z and he gradually determines
She sings of lovers, loneliness,
honky-tonk women, and New York City.
Other subjects serve as over-tones
(drinking, parents), but the latter
merely affect the primary concerns.
Her life has felt or lived them.
One love song mentions rubies and
smoke rings. In a recent photo
graph of Miss Nyro, a tremendous
ruby adorns a hand holding a
The Ijrrics are always conscious
of rhjnne scheme, sound, and rhythm.
One song, Bison Street^ perfectly
follows an A-B=C-A-C rhyme scheme
throughout all three verses. The
rhythm count is equally accurate.
The accompaniment never drowns
out her voice, or repeats its mood
from song to song. It glides with
her,suiting her every fancy. The
album took ten months to record, even
after the songs had been taped as
a lonely voice. Miss Nyro must have
toiled, repeated, and quarreled
with musicians constantly. The
time was well worth the outcome.
Horns, strings, pianos, drums,
and even silence are used through
that a planned assassination was
afoot. Played expertly and with
utter coolness by JeanLouis
Trintignant (A Man and a Woman)
the investigator indicts several
police figures in the plot. The
investigation scenes are master
ful: in depth, convincing,
and wholly interesting.
The last five minutes of the
film are as terrifying as anything
presented on the screen. As rela-
vent and topical a conclusion as I
would care to see (and true, based on
actual happenings in the Greek
government). And to the film's
credit, the final portion is handled
with intense precision and quickness,
denoting the real efficiency of the
police state; little room is left for
any revolutionary pretensions. Be
sure to check the film's final bit
of information - a staggering epitath.
Nothing has matched Z in contempo
rary film for its inherent sense of
despair; the movement Z led is
doomed from its outset.
Z is artfully tuned to the times.
The performances are excellent (Irene
Pappas is magnificent as Z's widow),
the direction perfect. The situation
may be set in a foreign land, but
the ocurrences and action are fright
fully real. It is indeed the one
film in a long list of many which
claim to be important to the lives we
are living, that ultimately does so.
No doubt many of you have
been waiting for some kind of reply
from me concerning some things
which were said and intimated in a
past issue of this newspaper.
Because of this importance to me,
and of my emotions concerning them,
I delayed any remark until it could
be done objectively and fairly.
I have spent five years of
my life at NCSA because I loved and
believed in everything good it
stood for. I gave to it, and it
gave to me in return. I stand on
my accomplishments those last five
years and say simply, if you
believe that I could be capable
of the things I was accused of by
Mr. Fragola - that I would actually
feel compelled to join his bitterness
than it was all for nothing, and you
really don't know me at all. I
(Con't. on ipage S )