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The Man Who Saved The World Review


On September 26th 1983, at the height of the Cold War, a false alarm at the Soviet nuclear early warning centre Serpukhov-15 almost brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Five America nuclear missiles were mistakenly reported to be headed towards the Soviet Union, and Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov saved the world from annihilation by going against protocol and not retaliating, following his gut feeling that this was all a mistake. Three decades later, Petrov’s contribution to the continued survival of the human race has been pretty much lost to the ages. Until now.

Mixing together re-enactments with fly on the wall documentary footage of Petrov in present day, Peter Anthony’s The Man Who Saved The World sheds light on Petrov’s life years after his historic decision, following him as he travels to America to finally receive acknowledgement from the world at large. The style at play here is quite unique, feeling less like a documentary and more like a narrative feature. The re-enactments taking on the air of a thriller, that will make you tense up despite knowing the outcome, while the modern day segments present a very human picture of a man whose importance to the world has being forgotten away in the intervening years. The Stanislav we meet in the opening frame is very humble, guarded, and quick to anger, especially when you mention his family. It’s a refreshingly real portrayal (probably because it is), helped immensely by Anthony’s intimate framing of his shots that really lets you get to know the man at the centre of this extraordinary story.

Our time with Petrov and his translator may feel slightly manipulated at times, but it does add a lot of power to their interactions, as the curmudgeonly old man slowly opens up to his young companion during a road trip across America to meet his hero, Kevin Costner. There is a nice vein of humour running through this (with much of it coming from the fact Petrov can’t seem to remember who Matt Damon is) that really humanises our companions on this journey, but it doesn’t take away from the drama, as The Man Who Saved the World has quite a lot to say on the subject of nuclear disarmament, and the story being told is as much about Petrov himself as it is about the decision he made on that fateful day in 1983.

The Man Who Saved the World is quite unlike any documentary you may have seen before, a startlingly intimate look at the latter years in the life of a forgotten hero.

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The Movie Bit: The Man Who Saved The World Review
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