In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.

Director:

David Fincher

Writers:

James Vanderbilt (screenplay), Robert Graysmith (book)
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Popularity
520 ( 11)
4 wins & 72 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jake Gyllenhaal ... Robert Graysmith
Mark Ruffalo ... Inspector David Toschi
Anthony Edwards ... Inspector William Armstrong
Robert Downey Jr. ... Paul Avery
Brian Cox ... Melvin Belli
John Carroll Lynch ... Arthur Leigh Allen
Richmond Arquette ... Zodiac 1 / Zodiac 2
Bob Stephenson ... Zodiac 3
John Lacy ... Zodiac 4
Chloë Sevigny ... Melanie
Ed Setrakian Ed Setrakian ... Al Hyman
John Getz ... Templeton Peck
John Terry ... Charles Thieriot
Candy Clark ... Carol Fisher
Elias Koteas ... Sgt. Jack Mulanax
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Storyline

A serial killer in the San Francisco Bay Area taunts police with his letters and cryptic messages. We follow the investigators and reporters in this lightly fictionalized account of the true 1970's case as they search for the murderer, becoming obsessed with the case. Based on Robert Graysmith's book, the movie's focus is the lives and careers of the detectives and newspaper people. Written by tom day

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

There's more than one way to lose your life to a killer See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some strong killings, language, drug material and brief sexual images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film pays homage to Dirty Harry (1971), whose foe, Scorpio, was based on the Zodiac murderer. Another fictional policeman also encountered a foe called Scorpio around this time. In the Robert Graysmith book, they note that around the time of the Zodiac murders, the police investigated a possible connection to the Dick Tracy comic strip, as Dick Tracy faced a Zodiac-themed gang directed by a mastermind called Scorpio. See more »

Goofs

The overhead shots of the San Francisco taxi show Bus Only lanes with a diamond symbol. While there were Bus Only lanes at the time, the diamond symbol was not used until many years later. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mike Mageau: Where have you been? I've been waiting since 7:00.
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Crazy Credits

The opening logos for Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. are the ones that were used in the 1970s. See more »

Alternate Versions

The end credits of the Director's Cut has a more detailed final cast listing. It properly credits many of the actors who were inexplicably left uncredited in the theatrical cut. However, Ione Skye's cameo as Kathleen Johns remains uncredited even in the Director's Cut. See more »

Connections

References Citizen Kane (1941) See more »

Soundtracks

Lowdown
Written by Boz Scaggs (as William Scaggs) and David Paich
Performed by Boz Scaggs
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
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User Reviews

 
Not Your Average Serial Killer Movie (And That's a Good Thing)
26 March 2007 | by evanston_dadSee all my reviews

"Zodiac" may frustrate viewers who come to David Fincher's latest film expecting a traditional serial killer thriller. The film begins with a couple of hair-raising and rather brutal recreations of murders carried out by the mysterious killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These early scenes are shocking and, compared to the rest of the film, disorienting, because they offer the only time that we come close to seeing events from the killer's perspective. As the film progresses, the Zodiac killer himself fades into the background, and the movie turns into a meticulous and engrossing document of the investigation to track him down, an investigation that includes countless blind alleys and false clues and which to this day has not reached a conclusion. I would be more prone to label the somewhat rambling screenplay as sloppy storytelling if I did not feel that Fincher tells the story exactly as he wants to. The elusive narrative works, because the film is about an elusive villain.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist working for the "San Francisco Chronicle" at the time the Zodiac killer began his gruesome work. He becomes fascinated by the case, and takes it on as a sort of morbid personal hobby long after the police department has given it up as a lost cause. Graysmith eventually wrote the book on which this film is based, and according to his accounts, he discovered enough evidence about one of the suspects in the case to put the police back on his trail years after he'd been cleared for lack of evidence. Other characters come and go. Robert Downey, Jr. does characteristically terrific work as a reporter at the "Chronicle" who grabs his own portion of notoriety through his involvement in the case. Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards play the two detectives in charge of the investigation. Chloe Sevigny plays Gyllenhaal's put-upon wife, who gradually loses her husband to his obsession. All of the actors deliver thrilling performances, many of them against the odds. Since this isn't a character driven movie, many of the characters remain undeveloped, but not, for once, to the detriment of the film. This story isn't about the people involved, but rather about their role in the Zodiac saga; once they've served their purpose, Fincher dispenses with them. Ironically, a film that clocks in at nearly 3 hours exhibits a great deal of narrative economy.

Parts of "Zodiac" are intensely creepy. Fincher effectively uses the rainy San Francisco atmosphere to its maximum potential, and the grimy browns and grays of the production design call to mind Fincher's other well-known films, like "Seven" and "Fight Club." But "Zodiac" is much more grown up than those films, and for an audience to enjoy it, it has to have an attention span. Long scenes are given to analyzing handwriting samples, recreating the scenes of murders, digging through newspaper clippings and files. You can tell that Fincher is fascinated by police work in the pre-CSI era, when fax machines were still a novel invention. He delves into the investigative process with a nearly fetishistic attention to detail, but he makes all of it endlessly mesmerizing. He does his best to bring everything to some sort of conclusion, but the real-life end to the story makes a complete conclusion impossible. This film is more about the journey than the destination, and what a journey it is.

Grade: A


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 March 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Chronicles See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,395,610, 4 March 2007

Gross USA:

$33,080,084

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$84,785,914
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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