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Film

When Vladimir Putin watched 'Dr. Strangelove' with Oliver Stone

There have been ongoing conflicts between Russia and Ukraine for a while now but Vladimir Putin managed to unite the entire world against him when he ordered his troops to invade the country a few days ago. Since then, the entire internet has been plastered with horrific footage from Ukraine as innocent civilians are being murdered by Russian soldiers.

During such a volatile moment when the entire fate of the world is predicated on the actions of a tyrant like Putin, many people have taken to the internet to research about the man who has been deemed solely responsible for all of this chaos. One strange documentary that has been rediscovered by many people is the 2017 TV series on Putin that was directed by none other than Oliver Stone.

Stone, the director of beloved films such as Platoon and Natural Born Killers, got the opportunity to conduct extensive interviews with Putin starting from 2015. High-profile political interviews weren’t uncharted territory for Stone as he had conversed with political leaders such as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez for other projects.

A lot of strange footage emerged as a result of Stone’s journey to Russia where he was given the kind of access that most foreign filmmakers would never have even dreamed of getting. The documentary garnered a lot of critical acclaim even though Stone maintained that it wasn’t his job to contest Putin on his problematic political views that were harming Russian citizens.

Putin was openly homophobic in the documentary, in addition to being extremely misogynistic while claiming that only women have bad days and that he is far superior. While insisting that he would never shower next to a gay man, Putin gave an incredibly bizarre response: “Why provoke him? But you know, I’m a judo master.”

During the production of the documentary, Stone was strangely receptive of many of Putin’s stances and even said that it was wrong to demonise him the way western media did. All those comments have aged very poorly now but given the amount of access that Stone got inside the country, it would be safe to assume that some sort of deal was already in place when Putin agreed to the documentary.

Due to Stone’s approach, many commentators have claimed that the documentary series isn’t really journalism and Stone hasn’t denied those claims at all. One fascinating moment occurs when Stone invites Putin to a viewing of Stanley Kubrick’s anti-war 1964 masterpiece Dr. Strangelove which is now the definitive critique of Cold War paranoia and the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Although Stone was very excited about the opportunity to watch the film with Putin, the Russian leader sat motionless and only said this at the end: “There are certain things in this film that indeed make us think, despite the fact that everything you see onscreen is make-believe.” None of Kubrick’s satire really stayed with Putin as he has threatened to deploy nuclear weapons on multiple occasions over the course of this war.