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Poisoned By Polonium: The Litvinenko File (Rebellion) (2007)
Poisoned By Polonium The Litvinenko File
Actor: Alexander Litvinenko
Director: Andrei Nekrasov
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
NR     2008     1hr 45min

(If anything should happen to me, I beg you to show this tape to the whole world.) On November 23rd, 2006, these words, spoken on camera by exiled former KGB and FSB (post communist Russia s dreaded new secret police) agen...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Alexander Litvinenko
Director: Andrei Nekrasov
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Politics
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/12/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 45min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Russian

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Movie Reviews

"If anything should happen to me, I beg you, show this tape
Stephen Pletko | London, Ontario, Canada | 09/08/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)


This documentary (formerly entitled "Rebellion") can be thought of as an epitaph, public disclosure, and personal journey revealing the truth about dissident and former KGB & FSB agent Alexander "Sasha" Litvinenko's (1962 to Nov. 2006) murder in London, England. (The FSB is the post-communism KGB.)

(Not mentioned in this documentary is that Litvinenko was murdered by radioactive Polonium-210 poisoning. He was probably the first person ever to die by this type of poisoning. Ironically, the restaurant where the poisoning took place has the actual name "The Polonium Restaurant.")

Thus, there are long sessions of Litvinenko being interviewed (before he was killed) by investigative journalist Andrei Nekrasov (who is also the director of this film and Litvinenko's friend).

It expands into a scathing indictment of modern Russia's political environment and national character using not only interviews but archival footage. Thus, there are stories of terrorism, slavery, blackmail, abductions, imprisonment, and as-sas-sin-ation.

This film's structure is a bit ramshackle and its final argument is somewhat dubious, but it does an excellent job of presenting its case. One might ask if this documentary is biased (since the director is Litvinenko's friend.) Perhaps. But what I found was a good example of level headed, journalistic investigation.

Those who appear in this documentary (the "protagonists") are listed in the end credits. There are eighteen names. The list begins with Litvinenko, his wife, father, and ends with Vladimir Putin, "President of Russia." Some people preferred that their name not be shown in the end credits.

I would recommend before watching this documentary that you read a brief biography of Litvinenko. As well, be sure to turn on the English subtitles (unless you understand Russian).

Finally, the DVD itself (the one released in 2008) is perfect in picture and sound quality. It has two extras.

In conclusion, this is a riveting documentary that attempts to answer the question:

Who poisoned Litvinenko?

(2007; 1 hr, 45 min; 12 chapters; wide screen)

Important subject matter trumps poor presentation
Michael M. Danziger | Venice, CA/Jerusalem, Israel | 04/20/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I'm giving this film a much higher rating than it deserves because I think that the subject matter is extremely important. The movie alleges a number of disturbingly plausible claims in the name of Litvinenko which the free world continues to be grossly negligent at verifying or disproving. Bottom line: the film asserts that Putin is the real deal--essentially a tyrant, brought to power via an FSB staged war in which he could show how "decisive" and "strong" he is by murdering many hundreds of civilians in the name of "Russia." All the while he is steeped in hundreds of millions of dollars of racketeered dollars that he has been amassing at least since the early 90s. Anyone who speaks out against him and has a chance of being heard is murdered. And no one can really investigate anything because he's the head of state--not only politically but also the head of a large network of criminal agents who control every level of power in Russia. The allegations are serious and appear to be largely substantiated to the extent that such a thing is possible under the circumstances.

As a film, I thought it was really weak. The cinematography was "artistic" but it was unclear to what degree that "artisticness" contributed to the overall message of the film. Funny camera angles, "visual noise" interludes etc. I'd trade them all for a few more minutes in which the allegations and the arguments supporting them are spelled out more clearly. The information and the allegations were presented in a scattered and incoherent manner which gave them some short term emotional impact but made it hard to figure out what exactly the director was trying to say. I've seen the film criticized as being "too emotional" but I think that the "emotional" part was sorely lacking. Intellectually, it is chilling and compelling. But the use of shocking imagery and inflammatory rhetoric caused a very strong "anti" emotional reaction--you feel as if you're being toyed with. If the facts speak for themselves, why do we need extended shots of maimed Chechen babies? Why do we need a long scene of a stripper to show us what capitalism is? Why do we need to be shown SO MANY charred corpses? Russians then Chechens then more Russians then more Chechens--they all look the same anyway, they just make your stomach turn. But for what--I'm sure you could find disturbing images of mutilated corpses in any society at any time in history and they'll always make one's stomach turn.

After watching this film, you can't help but be indignant about the world's naive acceptance of the current Russian regime but you lack much feeling for Litvinenko and the others killed by Putin's henchmen. They're deaths hang in the air but are played down by the more visceral images to the point that you want to say, "Yea, well, he died, but at least he died in a hospital." It seems to me that the film had a perfect opportunity to deeply humanize this issue as well as presenting the case against Putin however they wanted to. In my opinion they blew it on both counts. I wish there was another, better, film that dealt with these issues. Seeing as there isn't, I recommend that everyone watch this film but don't expect it to work all that well as a film or to tell you the whole story."