I tried to initiate a conversation with Gavras that would explain his interest in making films. So I talked with Gavras about how he got into filmmaking.
I said, “So how did you get into filmmaking?”
“I wanted to make films.” He said.
I said, “Yes but why did you get into filmmaking?”
He said, "I got into films because I wanted to make movies. That is why.”
So much for my own deep and probing questions.
The movie The Axe chronicles the murderous path of an unemployed chemist. The premise is that if there is only one job that this character is suited for then he must eliminate any and all men who might out-compete him for that job. Desperate for employment, he sets out to kill these men.
The strength of the film is how the audience finds itself aligning themselves with this despicable murderer. Make no mistake, you will sympathize with him and find yourself rooting for him to succeed. All the while, this makes you question your pre-disposition, under the right circumstances, to side with a force that is clearly acting despicably.
Costa-Gavras in this film asks us to endure our own affections. Perhaps even to evaluate our self-loathing. How does one feel about oneself if one felt good being a follower of the Hitler regime? How does one feel about oneself when one feels good and patriotic and “in support” of killing innocent people because they block our economic viablity?
Few films take us down such dark paths. Even fewer keep us laughing and entertained simultaneously. Make no mistake, you will laugh and be amused by the horrible hero. Somehow, as an audience we are reconciled to this reality. Perhaps because, as the movie concludes, it takes one to know one.
My one thumbs down? The party at the Ghirardelli Square didn't even validate. Despicable!