This DVD starts with a ten minute series of advertisements, for gentlemen's suits, and films I have never heard of and would never wish to see. This had to be accepted when DVDs were given free by newspapers some years ago, but it is unforgiveable in a commercial product for which one has paid, especially as there seems to be no way of fast-forwarding to the start of the film. This is a very long film, very slow in parts, with some English dialogue which is difficult to hear against the almost constant background noise, where the subtitles provided for the Russian, German and French speaking characters would have been valuable. The most interesting part is towards the end, when Khodorkovsky speaks to the camera. He comes across as a strong, resilient, probably honest but naive character, who mistakenly thought that the rule of law reigned in Russia. If he is ever released, and comes to lead an opposition party dedicated to establishing democracy in the country, his chances of success, or even of survival, seem slim. The power of big business corporations and underground political forces come across as still immense. An interesting technical feature is the very striking black and white scene-changing animation.
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The blurb for this is a little misleading: it is not a drama-documentary, although it does recount the story of its subject's life through the use of newsreel material, combined with striking animated sequences, representing key events.
Its great strength is in the access the film's maker has obtained to people from all period's of the man's life - both his supporters, and those who condemn him. Notable inclusions are his mother, his first wife, his son Pavel, his former business partner, his British mentor, his former head of security at Yukos (an ex-KGB officer), other former employees, and some prominent current Russian politicians. And, of course, Mikhail Khodorkovsky himself - interviewed through the grille of the courtroom cage during his second trial.
Its only weakness is in the rather obtrusive ego of the film-maker, who spends rather too much time telling us about himself, how he became interested in the subject, and his own cleverness in gaining access to so many major protagonists. (This seems a pervasive malaise of modern film-makers - this assumptionm that they themselves are as fascinating as their subjects.)
This gives the film an interminably slow start and is rather redundant, since Tuschi has, indeed, done a remarkable job at getting beyond the myth - both that of his supporters, and that of his demonisers - to an understanding of the brilliant, yet flawed, man himself.
It also proposes the most comprehensible explanation I have yet heard for why, when his fellow oligarchs were fleeing, Khodorkovsky chose to return to Russia.
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They beautifully blend audio narration, film footage and stylised animation to tell the story of Khodorkovsky. It is able to entertain whilst still remaining factually correct. A must see for anyone who wants to know more more about the political situation in Russia and does not yet know about Khodorkovsky.