This weekend, French newspapers talk about the four-part film of American filmmaker Oliver Stone about Russian President Vladimir Putin, which will be shown on French state channel France 3 on Monday, June 26. French observers are calling it too complimentary to the Russian president.
Speaking of this film, French journalists use the word “documentary” only in quotation marks. Libération correspondent in Moscow Veronika Dorman notes that it is difficult to determine the genre of the movie: something between “subjective interview and a film dialogue between the parties who agree in almost everything.” It’s not for nothing that Stone’s four-part film in Russia was shown on the air of Channel One, and Russian news agencies were actively talking about it.
Mr. Stone’s questions to Vladimir Putin are often hidden compliments or his subjective judgments, and sometimes – both at the same time. And sometimes the director falls into extremes, than even surprises his discourser.
For example, Mr Stone argues that the strategy of the United States is to “destroy the Russian economy, change the leadership of the country and subjugate Russia again.” Putin himself responds that in Washington they see Russia as a rival and calls for a dialogue with the United States. “Vladimir Putin in his background looks like a monument of moderation and wisdom,” writes Le Monde correspondent in Kiev Benoit Vitkin. And this completely coincides with the image of the “reasonable and moderate father of the nation”, which was created by the Russian media.
Putin demonstrates “something between satisfaction and amazement” when Stone lists his services in the field of economy and calls him “the real son of Russia,” the journalist continues.
The American film director, “without contradicting or even asking additional questions, allows the Russian president to explain that the media in Russia are free, that homosexuals are not harassed in any way, that he (Vladimir Putin) has pacified the oligarchs and that there is nothing illegal in the annexation of Crimea,” Writes the correspondent of the Libération newspaper.
There are only few tough moments in the movie when, for example, Oliver Stone asks Putin if it’s time to get out of politics, Benoit Vitkin says. But when Mr Putin at the wheel of his car with a scientific appearance explains to his discourser that Russian special services are working exclusively within the law, and that Russia does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries – only silence is in return.
When for a long time the president talks about the raids of Russian aviation in Syria, Stone does not ask what targets are being struck, but only exclaims: “You are striking seven days a week?! Wow!”
As Le Monde notes, no one claims that it is easy to interview Vladimir Putin. But Oliver Stone “overbid the stick.” He is persistent only when he expresses concern for the working rhythm of the Russian president and for his state of health.
“Archival footage is used only to confirm Putin’s arguments, and never – to put them in doubt. Epic and melancholic music makes the Russian head an adventure hero, rather than a documentary one,” notes Benoit Vitkin.
Just as in previous films about Edward Snowden and Fidel Castro, in the movie about Putin, Oliver Stone expresses his own discontent with US policy. And Putin here is just an excuse. Oliver Stone is actually the only protagonist of this film, and his target is an American imperialism, concludes Benoit Vitkin.