Z: Politics on Film
IN MAY 1963, Gregorios Lambrakis, professor of medicine at the University of Athens, opposition member of the Greek parliament, and leader of the Greek campaign for nuclear disarmament and against the deployment of American missiles in Greece, was conveniently run down by a motorcycle during a clash between his supporters and his opponents following a rally in Salonika. When Lambrakis died in the hospital a few days later, his followers claimed he had been the victim of a political murder. An investigation by a diligent and incorruptible examining magistrate bore out these charges. In 1966, the novelist Vassili Vassilikos wrote a thinly fictionalized account of Lambrakis’s death, the subsequent inquiry, and the sensational trial at which Lambrakis’s murderers were found guilty. The novel detailed how, with the connivance and cooperation of the police, an assassination had been made to look like an accident. Vassilikos called his book Z, meaning in Greek (Zei), “he lives.” The next year, the title was both confirmed and denied when the colonels overthrew the legal government of Greece and seized the power they still hold.
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