The Confession (1970)

The Confession Movie Poster

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In order to understand the emotions in The Confession, i needed to remember the history of Russia. Within my limited resources, i gathered that they suffered immensely from the fall of their empire in World War 1, to the government revolution by the Bolsheviks, and into Stalin’s dictatorial regime. I gathered feelings of failure, bitterness, and a disciplined resolve to unify a nation.  The Confession is a skillful demonstration about those emotions. 

The plot, based on a true, follows the capture and interrogation of Artur Ludvik who is believed to be part of  an opposition conspiracy group who are spying on the Stalin government. It is an extensive account of how he endured torture like starvation and sleep deprivation, and how his interrogators typed up his confession, even if he never seems to confess.

The director Costa-Gavras uses a mix of medium to confrontational shots. Cinematographer Raoul Coutard often moves in closer to accentuate an emotion – since the subject deals with a heavy topic about conflicting ideologies, the emotions tend to rise often among both prisoner and interrogator. 

I found the dialogue fascinating in how it reveals the history of its characters, bit by bit. We learn much more about the Artur’s past as it goes along. There are no surprises about him since it is revealed early on which government party he stands with. But little else is known at the beginning of the story.

The location of Artur’s prison does not show many other captives which gives the impression of a clandestine operation. There are guards in uniforms but the higher-ups look like government security. It’s a suspicious torture operation because  Artur is a foreign minister  of Czechoslovakia with friends  in Russian government positions, and yet no one recognizes their interrogators as comrades. The film places  all these characters in a prison building with a severe lacks of natural air due to its numerous windowless rooms.

The acting by Yves Montand as Artur, Simone Signoret as Arturs wife, and Gabriele Ferzetti as an interrogator is really impressive. The performances are not only connected to the part but also to the subject matter about conflicting socialist parties in Russia-Stalinism and Trotskyism. The party loyalties on display by the characters are effectively portrayed.

The Confession runs its course for a bit too long, but it is informative and emotional. Its screenplay and technical aspects come together quite well to make an meaningful film. It leaves an echo about a nations suffering.