• I as in Icarus / I comme Icare (1979) - The quintessence of all conspiracy thrillers - 9/10 (04/12/16)

    ''I as in Icarus'' is a slow-paced yet very tense French conspiracy thriller that convinces with a realistic plot inspired by true events, an intense series of investigations and a strong acting carried by Yves Montand as incorruptible prosecutor.

    The movie is obviously inspired by the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Just as in the true case, the president of an anonymous, globalized and modern country gets assassinated in his car by a sniper. Just as in the original case, the main suspect dies under mysterious circumstances and is declared the sole executor of the crime. Just as in the historical events, a prosecutor refuses to accept this thesis and investigates further, unveiling step by step an unspeakable conspiracy that might shake up the world as one knows it.

    Another inspiration for the movie comes from the fall of Chilean president Salvador Allende and the rise of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship. It's important to know that lead actor Yves Montand was raised in a communist family and had openly criticized the violent revolution in Chile prior to the making of this movie. While more conservative viewers might criticize this movie for its underlying anti-governmental left-wing message, this film can't be seen as a propaganda picture since it raises far more questions than it actually answers. In addition to this, the film was at the pulse of its time when conspiracy theories were quite popular.

    Another important element of this movie is the Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures which is shown, explained and analyzed in detail in relation to mass genocides such as the abominable crimes of Nazi Germany in this film. This element is related to potential executors being used such as pawns in a game of chess.

    All these elements offer a lot of food for thought to the viewer and also request quite some background knowledge, especially for younger contemporary audiences who might not be familiar with the events and experiments mentioned above. This is what makes this movie intellectually challenging, profoundly philosophical and an authentic document of its time in retrospective. This factual approach of the movie translates into detailed conversations, precise investigations and a unique ending as opposed to more emotional, stereotypical and vivid conspiracy movies in the key of bigger Hollywood pictures. Even though some elements of the film might seem old-fashioned today, the film's plot is still unusually captivating which makes this movie one of the very best of its kind. 

    To keep it short, this is one of the very best, if not the best conspiracy thriller of all times. It's unconventional, rebellious and realistic as it's clearly inspired by social and political events of the sixties and seventies. More than anything, it's an intellectually challenging film about the price of truth. Concerning its intentions, it makes me think of the equally brilliant ''Twelve Angry Men''. Those who like clever suspense movies should definitely be familiar with this often forgotten and still underrated masterpiece. Those who are simply looking for an entertaining crime film, might have to deal with some information overload.

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