“ Genre: Documentary / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Cyril Tuschi / Actors: Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Vladimir Putin, George Bush ... / DVD released 2012-03-05 at Trinity Film / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Dolby, PAL, Widescreen „
- Background -
Back in 2003 the head of Yukos, one of the largest and most successful oil companies in the world, was arrested by armed police in his private jet in Siberia. This man, named Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has been incarcerated ever since. Speculation as to why he was detained has been widespread, though many believe that he was put away because he was causing too many problems for Putin and the current Russian government; having been seen to fund opposition parties and engaging in talks with American firm Exxon for control over Russian oil fields. Officially he was imprisoned for money laundering and the appropriation of funds, though for many of the charges laid against him there is little evidence, with most people agreeing that the charges are politically motivated.
- The Documentary -
This documentary follows Cyril Tuschi, the director, as he embarks on a journey to discover some of the reasons behind Khodorkovsky's arrest. The film includes interviews with many high profile and important figures connected with the case, including Khodorkovsky's wife and son, his old business partners and members of the political opposition in Russia. It ends with an interview with Khodorkovsky himself whilst he is in court for an appearance. He is still in Jail today.
- Verdict -
This is a really important topic, and one that really deserves better than this. The film is really quite basic, giving what is really only a top layer view of what happened, and is happening. Many of the interviews drag on with much of the conversation included in the film being inane and unimportant. The people that the director does interview however are good people to interview, really important for the story, however the way it is done means that you come out feeling that you havn't learnt quite as much as you think you should have!
For someone like me, who is currently studying for a masters in Russian Politics, the basic level of this film was insufficient since it taught me nothing new about the subject. However, for anybody interested in Russian politics and the Khodorkovsky case more broadly, it is probably worth a watch, just don't expect to be an expert afterwards. If you are really interested, then read Putin's Oil - By Martin Sixsmith, which has all the interesting details of the case and much more astute commentary on the implications.
The film is well done however, and it is fairly impressive that the director managed to interview so many high profile people, its just a shame his questions were not so good! The production value here is high, although the sporadic cartoon pieces every twenty minutes or so are pretty irritating and really add nothing to the storytelling.
I would recommend this film if you know nothing about Khodorkovsky, however if you already know a bit, you will probably get bored.
Stanley...leave documentaries to people who actually know about the subject?
Running time - 111 min (too long)