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Poisoned By Polonium: The Litvinenko File (Rebellion) (2007)

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

(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) agent Alexander Sasha Litvinenko, became a gruesome self-fulfilling prophecy. After an agonizingly painful ordeal, Litvinenko succumbed to radiation poisoning from a lethal dose of toxic Polonium-210, surreptitiously slipped into his tea during a London meeting with two FSB ex-colleagues three weeks earlier.

In Poisoned by Polonium: The Litvinenko File (Formerly Known As REBELLION), filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov exposes the truth behind a crime that shocked the world and provoked a war of words between Russia and England that continues to this day. A (first-rate investigative documentary - NY Newsday) combining (an impressive array of film clips and extended interviews with Mr. Litvinenko - New York Times), Poisoned By Polonium: The Litvinenko File is both a nuanced documentary requiem for a friend and a searing personal indictment of Vladimir Putin s de facto dictatorship and Russia s hidden history of tyrannical secret police repression going all the way back to the Tsars.

DVD EXTRAS:

Recent interview with Marina Litvinenko and the co-author of her book on him, expert Alex Goldfarb. In English.

The documentary film DISBELIEF, directed by Andrei Nerkasov and based on
Litvinenko's book BLOWING UP RUSSIA. Premiered at Sundance 2004. In Russian with English subtitles.

14 min documentary, THE HERO OF OUR TIME, directed by Andrei Nekrasov. Its about the POLONIUM protagonist M. Trepashkin. In original Russian with English subtitles.

Review

POISONED BY POLONIUM - 4 Stars Highest Rating: (4 out of 4) - Although a first-rate investigative documentary on its own, Andrei Nekrasov's POISONED BY POLONIUM also serves as a sequel to the 2004 film DISBELIEF, in which the director made a rather indisputable case that the notorious 1999 Moscow apartment bombings were the work of Vladimir Putin and Russia's FSB (the heir to the KGB). In POLONIUM, Nekrasov examines the 2006 London assassination - via sushi laced with radioactive Polonium 210 - of FSB whistle-blower Alexander (Sacha) Litvinenko, and indicts the Putin regime, using in-depth interviews with the victim and his wife, Marina, and building a solid, if circumstantial, murder case against the oligarchs of the contemporary Kremlin. Nekrasov's latest is both a work of journalism and cinema. His juxtaposition of archival footage and recent black-and-white scenes, for instance, creates a visual echo of Nekrasov's plaint that nothing in the motherland ever changes, and that the Putin regime rivals the worst. --John Anderson, New York Newsday

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Alexander Litvinenko
  • Directors: Andrei Nekrasov
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Extra tracks, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Russian
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: KINO INTERNATIONAL
  • DVD Release Date: August 12, 2008
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00181XY7G
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,160 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Roland E. Zwick on August 26, 2010
Format: DVD
Anyone who believes that government-sanctioned repression and political skullduggery ended in Russia with the collapse of the Soviet Union - and the attendant dissolution of the KGB - will find much to disabuse them of that notion in "Poisoned by Polonium: The Litvinenko File," a disturbing and eye-opening look at what life is like in that recently "liberated" country.

Alexander "Sasha" Litvinenko was, of course, the outspoken critic of the Putin government whose death by polonium poisoning in 2007 made international headlines. Litvinenko's "crimes" went beyond mere criticism of policy, however; an ex-KGB agent himself, he accused the FSB - the Russian secret service, a direct descendant of the old KGB - of being behind the terrorist bombings that rocked Moscow in 1999, bombings that he and others claimed were done for the express purpose of ramping up public outrage against the Chechens whom the government knew would be blamed for the atrocities. It was Litvinenko's "insider" knowledge and willingness to speak out despite tremendous risk to himself and his family that led activist filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov to seek out and befriend him. With this unlimited access, Nekrasov was able to interview Litvinenko at great length for the several years leading up to his death. He even got to film him as he lay dying in a hospital room in London, where Litvinenko had been granted political asylum. It is these interviews that make up the bulk of Nekrasov's informative and shocking film.
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When former KGB agent Alexander "Sasha" Litvinenko died from polonium poisoning in the UK, it was shocking and wrenching. There was also an underlying enigma- who was the poisoner? Could they be found within Vladimir Putin's regime? It was like the infamous case of the Bulgarian dissident who died in the UK after being stabbed with an umbrella. Litvinenko's death was very public... he wasted away before the cameras, calling for justice.

"Poisoned by Polonium" shows the disturbing nature of the Putin regime... and how even Czarist Russia paved the way. At one point, the narrator is shown where Fyodor Dostoevsky (Memoirs from the House of the Dead (Oxford World's Classics)) was imprisoned, and told about the Czar's secret police. Litvinenko paid the ultimate price for trying to tell the truth;he questioned Putin's authority, as well as the conflict in Chechnya... the Russian conflict with the mainly Muslim Chechens has been so long-running that Leo Tolstoy covered it in his final artistic work Hadji Murat (Oneworld Classics) Litvinenko saw himself as both a faithful Russian Orthodox and towards the end, a convert to Islam. His widow Marina speaks of him being an Orthodox to the end.

"Poisoned" interviews Litvinenko's former colleagues, trying to find the answer to the mystery.
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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.
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