Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case

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Review byMatthew Turner22/05/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 103 mins

Andrei Nekrasov's documentary tells a fascinating and ultimately chilling tale, but the film is so badly made that it's often difficult to watch.

What's it all about?
The murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko made headlines last year, not least because his poisoning (by radioactive Polonium-210) seemed like something out of a James Bond movie. Director Andrei Nekrasov befriended Litvinenko shortly after his escape to London five years ago. The two men conducted several interviews before his death, in which Litvinenko outlined the reasons for his self-imposed exile, primarily his belief that the FSB (an offshoot of the KGB) were responsible for the Moscow apartment bombings in 1999.

As well as harrowing footage of Litvinenko on his death bed, Nekrasov includes interviews with former friends and colleagues, including his widow, Marina and, astonishingly, one of the main suspects in his murder, who seems to know rather a lot about Polonium-210. In addition, he investigates Litvinenko's belief about the bombings and points out a string of other unsolved murders.

The Good
There's no doubt that Nekrasov has some incendiary footage on his hands and the fact that Litvinenko predicted his own murder lends a disturbing amount of weight to his paranoid-sounding theories. Similarly, in examining Russia's war with Chechnya (presented to the people, in the wake of the bombings, as a war on terror – sound familiar?), Nekrasov draws some uncomfortable parallels with current situation in Iraq.

The Bad
The problem with the film is that it's incredibly badly made – the majority of the footage is grainy and indistinct (it would look better on TV) and the boring interviews go on way too long. The editing is choppy and confusing and the camerawork is all over the place, possibly because Nekrasov thought jerking the camera around all the time would give it a cinema verite quality.

Worth seeing?
In short, Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case is a fascinating, tragic and ultimately chilling story that is unfortunately not given the treatment it deserves, due to Nekrasov's poor direction and some abysmal editing decisions.

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Content updated: 19/06/2018 03:20

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