The mysterious and terrible “Zodiac”
When you shoot a film based on real facts, according to documents, evidence of a real criminal case, data from a police report, it is quite difficult to “deviate” a little from the truth and present the viewer with your “director’s” version of any criminal story. The painting by D.Fincher truly juicy and expressively tells about the atrocities of a real maniac named “Zodiac”, who operated in the late 60s in San Francisco and the immediate vicinity.
The director was able to masterfully and interestingly combine the meager police reports, reports and numerous testimonies of witnesses in the case, articles and books by Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist who really existed and decided to take on the search and exposure of the Zodiac on his own.
Accurately, scrupulously, verified and as close to reality as possible, Fincher tries not to miss a single detail and fact that happened during the investigation, to tell in his own way how it all happened, without missing a single nuance. The film “Zodiac” makes you immerse yourself and feel the atmosphere of the investigation, right “sitting on the couch” to connect and begin to speculate, analyzing the facts. From the first minute, the film captures and keeps almost the entire 2.5 hours in suspense.
What is the movie about?
The first minutes of the film detective are carried away in the summer of 1969, when on the evening of Thanksgiving, amid flashes of fireworks and mass celebrations, in an atmosphere of calm and regularity, the cold-blooded, cynical and brutal murder of two teenagers who went to the park by car on a romantic date takes place. The killer dispassionately and indifferently shoots both of them right in the car, and when he sees that the guy is still alive, he returns and finishes him. By chance, the teenager remains alive and many years later gives testimony about the identity of the killer.
Some time after the murder, the police received a call from an unknown person with a message about the exact location and details of the massacre; 4 weeks after the incident, the editorial offices of the largest local newspapers received identical letters-messages from a maniac with a cryptogram that sheds some light on the identity of the Zodiac. In his numerous letters, he discusses the moral aspects of life in his ideas, his own goals and desires.
The police are throwing all their strength into the search for the killer, the case is being dealt with by highly qualified professionals D. Toschi and W. Armstrong, and the journalist of the San Francisco Chronicle P. Avery and staff cartoonist R. Graysmith begin their own investigation to expose the identity of the bloody murderer. Graysmith’s manic obsession and passion help him to get to the bottom and get as close as possible to unraveling the identity of the serial maniac, but the case of “Zodiac” has not yet been solved.
Over the years, the cartoonist will write a book about the killer and his private investigation, which becomes a real bestseller. The fact that the Zodiac was never caught gives the picture a pepper and secret acuteness.
The identity of the killer is extremely mysterious, he is cunning and extremely smart, since he does not leave the slightest clue and constantly confuses the police, which he writes about in his messages, frankly ridiculing their professionalism and having fun over the confusion and panic prevailing in the behavior and actions of the police. He twists everyone around the finger, not allowing them to prove his own guilt, effectively and terrifyingly plays, allegedly participating in a TV show with a famous lawyer. In one of his messages, the Zodiac admits that he dreams of being reborn after death in paradise, sees his victims as slaves and would like to see an interesting film about himself. Who knows, maybe the real killer still managed to watch the film by D.Fincher?
Psychologically, all these letters add each time a portion of tension for the viewer, the unsolved case and messages make his personality mystical and mysterious. Inconsistent and accidental murders most terribly and eerily plunge into the atmosphere of inconsistent and “sick” terror created by the Zodiac.
The scene with the kidnapped young girl and the baby, whom he still allows to escape, is extremely nervous and dramatic. The desire and readiness of a maniac to kill for the sake of his own amusement is wildly frightening.
A story without end
The intrigue of the director’s intention is skillfully carried through the entire film, the ending according to the classics of the genre does not become a denouement this time, the question remains open. The killer has not been caught, the case has not been solved.
The scene when R. Graysmith comes to the store where A. Lee works – the main suspect, whose guilt no one has been able to prove, makes one get so close to the solution that it seems that the killer has finally been found and exposed. The cartoonist’s gaze and the “readable answer” in Lee’s eyes make it clear that independent investigation and guesses led him right, but the end of the story remains unanswered to the most important question.
The course of the investigation lasted more than a dozen years, and the last time the “Zodiac” let know about itself in 1979. The whole story and its course meticulously recreated by Fincher almost in its original form, if it could only be repeated, as if piece by piece a puzzle of real facts and evidence.
“Zodiac” breaks the lives of two main police inspectors D. Toski and W. Armstrong, who are showing great promise. After numerous attempts to catch the killer, which always end in vain, both fall into despair and give up: one is transferred to another place of work, the second comes to complete despair and records himself among the losers.
The fate of the journalist P. Avery is no better – he gets drunk without getting to the bottom of the truth. R. Graysmith devotes more than a dozen years of his own life, sacrifices his family, but nevertheless most of all advances in solving the question of the identity of the killer. Indirect evidence of guilt does not allow to prove the guilt of A. Lee, the cartoonist publishes all his thoughts in circulation and public review through his book “Zodiac”.
A little about the setting
The director has masterfully recreated the era and the spirit inherent in America of the 60s. Costumes, parts, cars, clothes and interiors allow you to immerse yourself as much as possible and get closer to the real events of that time. Skillfully and masterly selected soundtracks for each scene or episode add a degree of persuasiveness, the bloody story momentarily becomes a part of the viewer’s life.
The film is saturated with an abundance of dry numbers, titles, names and dates, like a canvas that permeates the entire investigation process. Sometimes the viewer can get confused in this sea of information that simply needs to be memorized and compared in order not to lose the meaning of what is happening on the screen. The filmmaker needs to be careful because the narrative now and then moves from police to journalists and vice versa.
The plot now and then presents new and new twists and turns, preventing the viewer from losing interest in what is happening on the screen. The scene at the end of the film, where the cartoonist comes for tapes on which prints could remain, to the former employee of the cinema where A. Lee worked, brings another intrigue into the picture, it becomes completely incomprehensible who is the real killer.
Despite the mass of testimonies and facts, for example, the presence in A. Lee’s trailer of a weapon that matches the murder weapon, surviving witnesses who saw the killer face to face, do not give any reason to unequivocally assert that he is a maniac. The killer was never caught, and the film colorfully recreates and plunges the viewer into an eerie atmosphere, involving the unraveling of a bloody and cruel puzzle.