“The others are confessing — the only chance to save your neck is to confess, as they are doing.”
A high-ranking government official (Yves Montand) in Communist Czechoslovakia is taken prisoner and forced to confess to treason he never committed.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Cold War
- Costa-Gavras Films
- Falsely Accused
- Historical Drama
- Simone Signoret Films
- Yves Montand Films
Costa-Gavras followed up his Oscar-nominated political thriller Z (1969) with this hopelessly grueling tale based on Artur London’s experiences during the infamous Czechoslovakian Slansky trial, in which 13 innocent men (11 of them Jewish) were forced to confess to crimes of treason against the Communist Party. Costa-Gavras’ gift for depicting no-holds-barred realism and eliciting fine performances from his actors is in full evidence here; unfortunately, however, the story he’s chosen to tell is so nightmarishly Kafka-esque that it’s truly difficult to sit through for over two hours. Even knowing that the protagonist (who is occasionally shown telling his story in flashback) will survive to write a book about his travails doesn’t help matters much. The Confession is ultimately a film one admires rather than enjoys, and will be of most interest either to Costa-Gavras fans or history buffs interested in the dysfunctional machinations of Stalinism.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Yves Montand as “Gerard”
- Simone Signoret as Montand’s wife
- An uncompromising depiction of sustained psychological and physical torture
No, although it’s recommended for those who can stomach it. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.