Peter Anthony (director)
Statement Films (studio)
105 minutes (length)
15 May 2015 (released)
14 May 2015
This is the real life documentary story of Stanislav Petrov. A Soviet union solider working in the military missile shield. This was where nuclear weapons were triggered in the event of a bomb coming from the other side. This story is actually more the discovery and re discovery of this incredibly important man. The man who did literally save the world from the horror of billions of dead and millions left in a world that would resemble a bad version of Mad Max. Using a wide range of techniques from film language in order to tell a story that must be more widely told.
The Soviet union was a place of well kept state secrets and wide spread fears. These circumstances created a wide range of problems for the people inside and outside of the country during the 'Cold war' years. When the curtain fell and Communism collapsed into only small pockets of resistance, much of the truth of this oppression and suppression became clear . Before I continue, I would like to add that this is not to say that the western world is or was any better, it is just that these sort of events were more widely documented. When Stanislav Petrov, singularly saved the world from annihilation (because in truth he did do this), the seriousness of the incident came didn't and almost never would have come to light. When it did however it began a conversation and a chance for many to reconsider both the evils of nuclear weapons but also the problem of infallibility. A nuclear holocaust was a possibility if a single wrong call was made and acted out. As we have seen in places like Iraq, this could have lead to many awful things happening and many more deaths than ever imagined.Now you may ask what can a documentary like this give to us now that we know that the world didn't end due to this incident? and more importantly then is it worth watching at all?
Yes very much so in my opinion. What it has to do is very simple to say, it must tell the story in a way that is educational, engaging and above all relates to the humanism in the event. The main reason for this is not the direction, editing, script, no it is what the film makers knew was the reason for the story and its telling, Stanislav. The educational aspect is in the telling of his story. Setting of the stage of the person, place and the time is done so well that you truly understand Stanislav and the soviet mindset. Using both stock footage and excellent personal filmed documents of a man who is at once funny and tragic is intelligent and considered. These balance well with the re enactments, that are tense but more so are there to explore the real man in a way that connects past and present. This engages the audience to watch in suspense as he must battle to control a situation that had already overheated. Stanislav is not a superhero but a simple, likeable human being. He lost the woman he loved, suffered under his own judgements and was seen as waster. I felt that this humanity was the most powerful connection to the seriousness of what had happened. The clean and stark words on screen married with excellently acted drama. Stanislav speaks at length about his own fears of what he had the power to do. He also tell us that the Soviet people were humans like everyone else, he even seemed to scream it out. Even when Kevin Costner appears, we still know that the human in Stanislav is screaming out for us to understand the gravity...
Stanislav the human is the key to the film and as such is a hero of this jaded time....