Criterionís original laserdisc had nothing in the way of supplements but Fox Lorberís edition contained a few supplements including a commentary by director Costa-Gavras. Unfortunately Criterion hasnít carried any of them over, but have produced a few of their own.
Instead of a commentary by the director we actually get an audio commentary from film historian Peter Cowie. Itís a fairly decent track though not one of his best ones (nor his worst.) He of course brings up the novel on which the film is based and the actual incident both the film and novel are based on, the assassination of Gregoris Lambrakis, giving a decent history of the incident and the events that followed it. He also talks about the political tensions that were occurring in Greece before, during, and after the filmís production and release. He also enjoys breaking down the filmís quick editing and giving brief backgrounds for all of the performers that appear in the film, and even touches on Greek film history (despite Z technically not being one, which he does mention.) Itís a decent track, worth listening to, especially for some of the historical bits found within it.
Also included here is a new interview with director Costa-Gavras. Running shy of 20-minutes (and divided into 4 chapters) he talks a bit about recent Greek history and politics and then how he got into filmmaking with a strong desire to make political films. He recalls the production and some of the more difficult aspects of the shoot, specifically brawls that appear in the film, then goes over the score, and the filmís eventual release. It feels brief on the subjects he covers but it adds a little to whatís covered in the commentary.
A little better, yet shorter, is the 11-minute interview with cinematographer Raoul Coutard. He spends a lot of time comparing his experience with Costa-Gavras to his work with Godard, stating Gavrasí is certainly more meticulous and organized (and ďdoesnít throw fits.Ē) He talks about the set up of the moving shots, gets into detail about the assassination sequence, and then makes comparisons with another film he did with Gavras, The Confession (with actual clips from the film.) Short but a little more fulfilling and insightful than the interview with the director.
Criterion then includes a section they call From the Archives, which presents a few interview segments filmed around the time of the novelís release or the filmís release.
First is an interview with author Vassilis Vassilikos about his novel. Lasting less than 10-minutes he talks about the actual assassination of Gregoris Lambrakis, getting into detail about the actual incident and the evidence uncovered afterwards. He then talks about the two key characters of the novel, the Magistrate and the journalist (who was composed of three or four different people.) While it repeats information seen elsewhere on the disc itís still worth watching for a more in-depth look at the novel.
Next are two pieces containing interviews with various members of the cast and crew. First is a 5-minute piece from 1969 with Costa-Gavras, Yves Montand, Irene Papas, Jacques Perrin, and Jean-Louis Trintignant. Gavras talks about his intentions with the film while the actors talk about their reasons for doing the film, Montand taking up most of the pieceís time. The next interview, running less than 4-minutes, collects interviews again with Gavras and Perrin, and then actor Pierre Dux, who lets on to a certain disgust he has with the character he plays. The section then closes with some notes on the clips under ďAbout the Programs.Ē Again, some information is repeated but itís good to get it from firsthand accounts.
The disc then closes with a long, spoiler heavy 3-minute trailer.
The set then includes a booklet with an essay by Armond White that doesnít really add much to the release, not actually making for an interesting read.
I would have liked it if Criterion had ported over Costa-Gavrasí commentary from the Fox Lorber edition (which I actually havenít listened to.) I was also surprised there wasnít much on the actual Lambrakis assassination outside of the novel and the film, but I guess that would have been a little redundant. Not jam packed, but the supplements are solid enough overall. 7/10