State of Siege Screen 7 articles

State of Siege

1972

State of Siege Poster
  • The director earned points at the time (1973) for tackling a subject ignored by the press, but so much better work has since been done in this genre that State of Siege now seems quaintly inept, compromised by epileptic camera work and a naive, sentimental conception.

  • Throughout this purposefully frustrating Yankee-Go-Home pamphlet, Costa-Gavras compounds elements from both Z and The Confession to undercut jazzy urgency with weary melancholia in the face of the multi-headed interventionist chimera.

  • The movie’s release inspired outrage from the U.S. government, which insisted that its representation of America’s involvement in Latin America was pure fiction. If anything, though, State Of Siege is probably too circumspect. Certainly, there are no winners here.

  • Costa-Gavras continues the aesthetic mode from The Confession by collaging together moments that don't form a thesis or psychological inquiry, but illustrate the parameters of political conflict while deconstructing journalistic logic and argument. The film's core, however, is certainly impassioned and politically engaged, but not at the expense of formal interest.

  • Anyone who can be bothered to dig beneath the surface quickly strikes his shovel against these grim, intractable bones, the ossified determinants of who holds power and who does not. Looming invisibly over the interrogation is Costa-Gavras, supremely aware that he wields in his lens a uniquely effective kind of shovel. Indeed, this to him is what the cinema is: “a way of showing, exposing the political processes in our everyday life.”

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    Film Comment: Nicolas Rapold
    May 05, 2015 | May/June 2015 Issue (p. 77)

    The premier at the Kennedy Center was reportedly canceled because the film (based upon events in Uruguay) refrains from condemning terrorist tactics. Indeed, the improbable synchrony in the action sequences—whether depicting revolutionaries or government thugs—imbues the realistic setting with, by turns, the air of a nightmare, and a sense of wishful thinking.

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    Sight & Sound: Michael Atkinson
    July 03, 2015 | August 2015 Issue (p. 96)

    Costa-Gavras structures the film around a series of massive, roving, rooftop-view tableaux of social militarisation, as the army and police scour the urban landscape for the insurrectionists; using real bystanders and routinely stretching for miles, it is realism not only in detail but in scale, the sense of an entire society churning and eating itself alive.

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