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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Z ou l'anatomie d'un assassinat politique')

 

directed by Costa-Gavras
Algeria / France
1969

 

A pulse-pounding political thriller, Greek expatriate director Costa-Gavras’s Z was one of the cinematic sensations of the late sixties, and remains among the most vital dispatches from that hallowed era of filmmaking. This Academy Award winner—loosely based on the 1963 assassination of Greek left-wing activist Gregoris Lambrakis—stars Yves Montand as a prominent politician and doctor whose public murder amid a violent demonstration is covered up by military and government officials; Jean-Louis Trintignant is the tenacious magistrate who’s determined not to let them get away with it. Featuring kinetic, rhythmic editing, Raoul Coutard’s expressive vérité photography, and Mikis Theodorakis’s unforgettable, propulsive score, Z is a technically audacious and emotionally gripping masterpiece.

 

Posters

 

Theatrical Premiere: May 1969 - Cannes Film Festival

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Comparison:

Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC

(Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1- NTSC - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

Distribution

Fox / Lorber

Region 1 - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 491 Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:01:28 2:07:04
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.35 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.199 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Bitrate

Fox Lorber

Bitrate

Criterion

Audio French mono, French Dolby Digital 5.1

French 1.0

Subtitles English, Spanish, German, none English (SDH), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Fox - Lorber

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.66:1

Edition Details:

Commentary in French with Costa-Garvas (optional English subtitles)
Interview with Gavras + Vassili Vassilikos (18:41)
Photo Gallery
Filmographies
Restoration Demos
Adverts

Weblinks

DVD Release Date: July 2nd, 2002
Keep case

Chapters 40

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard
• Audio commentary featuring film historian Peter Cowie
• New interviews with Costa-Gavras (19:32) and Coutard (10:38) - both 16X9
• Archival interviews with Costa-Gavras; producer-actor Jacques Perrin; actors Pierre Dux (3:48 4:3); Yves Montand, Irčne Papas, and Jean-Louis Trintignant (5:06 4:3); and Vassilis Vassilikos (9:36 - 4:3), author of the book Z
• Theatrical trailer
• 16-page liner notes booklet featuring photos and an essay by critic Armond White

 

DVD Release Date: October 27th, 2009
Transparent Keep case

Chapters 25

 

Comments

While the Fox Lorber DVD from 2002 was probably one of their better efforts, cited as 'The Masterwork Edition', it is still flawed with an unconverted PAL transfer (see running times - 4% faster than the 127 theatrical minute time stated on both the back of the case and mentioned in the Costa-Gavras commentary). Hence the image is fraught with the artifacts associated with that sub-standard practice including combing and ghosting - visible in some of the screen captures below. Both editions are in the corrected 1.66:1 aspect ratio (or thereabouts) with black bars down the side of the anamorphically transferred frame residing on dual-layered discs. The F/L was fetching some high prices through third-party sellers and online auctions but has now dropped with news of the Criterion release.

The Criterion may be a shade more yellow/blue and the Fox/Lorber slightly reddish but with the former having filmmaker endorsement - stated on the box as 'New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard' - it's hard to state that the newer edition colors are inaccurate. The Criterion has a tendency to look sharper - perhaps because of some boosted black levels but with the Fox/Lorber's frequent combing it's easy to choose the Criterion for the superior visual presentation.

For audio Fox/Lorber went with the option of an original mono choice or an ineffectual 5.1 track while Criterion stuck with a standard single-channel offering. There is a bit of separation in the 5.1 but it often sounds hollow during the crowded political rallies and foot/car chase scenes. I was quite content with the mono track which sounded quite even and consistent on the Criterion especially Mikis Theodorakis' musical theme. Where the Fox/Lorber offered optional English, Spanish or German subtitles in a bright, intrusive, yellow font, the Criterion just gives us their standard English choice in white lettering with a slight black border (samples below).

Extras - well - both editions offered a commentary track. Fox/Lorber has the director himself in French with optional English subtitles. It was quite good with Costa-Gavras offering some valid information and insights. Criterion have Peter Cowie giving another professional and thorough commentary of his own recorded in 2009. It covers so much - including a lot of left-leaning political information relating to the true life case that 'Z' directly relates as well as the detainment of composer Mikis Theodorakis. Cowie sates that Oliver Stone is the only real director that resembles Costa-Gavras today. The earlier edition also has an 18-minute interview with the director and author Vassili Vassilikos - of whose book was the basis of the film. After that a lot of the Fox/Lorber is filler with a short, and also interlaced, restoration demo, a photo gallery and some text bios. Criterion, on the other hand continues with two new interviews. One running almost 20-minutes with Costa-Gavras recalling Greece's volatile past - World War II era, the making of 'Z' and the film's timely release. We get another 2009 interview, a little over 10-minutes, with Coutard talking of his experience working with Costa-Gavras. Under "From the Archives" we get almost 20 minutes of late 1960's program excerpts courtesy of the INA - Institut national de l'audiovisuel - with content including input from Costa-Gavras; producer-actor Jacques Perrin; actors Pierre Dux (3:48 4:3); Yves Montand, Irčne Papas, and Jean-Louis Trintignant (5:06 4:3); and Vassilis Vassilikos (9:36 - 4:3), author of the book 'Z. We also have a 3 3/4-minute anamorphic theatrical trailer and a 16-page liner notes booklet featuring photos and an essay by critic Armond White.

It's so interesting to compare the film's relevance to today's political climate and it was so ahead of its time winning both the Academy Award as Best Foreign Film and New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Picture. It really set the tone for future political thrillers. The Criterion is the only way to go - and we encourage upgrading if you do happen to own the 2002 edition. It's priced at Criterion's higher tier but surely the film and package are worth much more to cinema fans around the world. We strongly recommend!    

 -Gary Tooze

 



DVD Menus / Extras
 

 
 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM).

 


Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


Report Card:

 

Image:

Criterion

Sound:

Criterion

Extras: Criterion

 
DVD Box Covers

 

Distribution

Fox / Lorber

Region 1 - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 491 Region 1 - NTSC


 





 

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Gary Tooze

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