Costa-Gavras' Z is the story of a political crime — an assassination. I have always enjoyed movies of intrigue, corruption, mystery, detective, forensic slants, especially if they are part of the historical dialog, and particularly where there is danger and a forward thinking, persecuted, non-violent underdog.
The movie opens on a speech given by the General at the beginning of the movie, and if you couple it with the speech by Gregoris Lambrakis during the rally later in the movie, it shows the amazing contrasts between these two men. It is always hard to believe that these types of things could really happen in the world. Yet, Gregoris Lambrakis is dead, Martin Luther King is dead, John F. Kennedy is dead, as are other visionaries around the world today and in history. This movie is not just one man's story, but a story depicting the elements of this type of political corruption that feeds fear and reaction that seems to repeat itself like some horrible plague in history.
Z was directed by Costa-Gavras and loosely based on the 1967 novel Z by Vassilis Vassilikos — a novel which he stated was based in fact — a reconstruction of a political crime. Costa-Gavras' film Z was the winner of the 1970 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Costa-Gavras started the film with the following disclaimer: "Any similarity to actual events or persons living or dead is not coincidental. It is intentional."
The film was intentionally set in an unnamed country since Costa-Gavras didn't feel it need to be named, because this sort of thing has happened before in many countries - and it is the mechanism of these types of political crimes that is being addressed in the film. However, it has been determined that the original story which the movie was loosely based on was about the 1963 assassination of liberal deputy Gregoris Lambrakis in Thessaloniki, Greece due to its roots in the novel Z.