“The Man Who Saved the World” is the gripping true story of a lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, Stanislav Petrov, who refused to order the launch of nuclear weapons when the warning system showed — erroneously — incoming U.S.missiles.
The Danish-made film, directed by Peter Anthony, is half-documentary and half-reconstruction.It was released in October 2014 at the Woodstock Film Festival and since then, Anthony, who wrote and directed the movie, has been on the road bringing Stanislav Petrov’s story to audiences all around the world.
“It cannot be called only a feature film or only a documentary,” Anthony told The Moscow Times at a press screening in Moscow earlier this month. “It has its own style and universe.”
Anthony said that he, like other journalists and specialists, knew little about the story of Stanislav Petrov. When he first came to Russia ten years ago, Anthony found it difficult to piece together what happened, in part because Petrov did not want to talk about it. “’I would never tell you all about my life’,” Anthony said Petrov told him. “’I am a Russian lieutenant colonel and I do not talk about my personal life’.”
Over time, however, changing politics and glasnost made it possible to piece together the story. And Petrov eventually agreed to share some of his memories. By then he was tired and embittered by his treatment after the incident. In the film, the documentary footage of Petrov’s last years, which were rather lonely and isolated, contrast with the reconstructed scenes of the young and active lieutenant colonel, played by Sergei Shnyryov.