Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. France/Italy/West Germany, 1972. Reggane Films, Euro International Film, Unidis, Dieter Geissler Filmproduktion. Story by Costa-Gavras, Franco Solinas, Screenplay by Franco Solinas. Cinematography by Pierre-William Glenn. Produced by Jacques Perrin. Music by Mikis Theodorakis. Production Design by Jacques D’Ovidio. Costume Design by Piet Bolscher. Film Editing by Francoise Bonnot. Golden Globe Awards 1973. New York Film Critics Awards 1973.
An American official (Yves Montand) is kidnapped by political insurgents in Uruguay, interrogated for what they suspect is his involvement in aiding the government’s suppression of the people through violence and torture. Montand insists that he is simply an employee of the US Agency for International Development and that his appearances in other countries that have had similar issues is simply a coincidence, while the police and government struggle to locate him and two other hostages before their captors execute them. This excellent political thriller by Costa-Gavras is related with documentary-like reality, a film concerned entirely with process as opposed to the character development and conflict that would mark his later masterpiece Missing. It’s amazing to see how much riveting drama can be got out of simply watching scene after scene of vicious activity on either side of the law, edited skillfully by Francoise Bonnot to always be clearly understood despite not being portrayed in sequence. The film is based loosely on the 1970 kidnapping of Dan A. Mitrione in Montevideo, its criticism of American involvement in the injustices of South American countries losing power only by the fact that all the dialogue is dubbed in French and Montand couldn’t possibly come off less American if he was wearing a beret and holding an accordion.