Saturday, April 6, 2024


 "Litvenenko" (2022) is based on a true story, that on the surface is hard to believe.  It takes not only skill, but also gall to pull what the Russians did and have since repeated.  We are introduced to Alexander Livinnenko as he finished up a meal in September of 2006.  Almost right away it seems he is in the hospital  and now bald.  They call in the police who are at first skeptical as he claims he has been murdered and names his murderer, Vladimir Puetin.  Doctors and researchers try to find out what is killing him, but it is finally found to be polonium and Litvenenko already knows he will die.

The rest of the series is devoted to trying to learn how it was done and what was the motive.  The English police actually traveled to Moscow where they were misled.  The scientific search did establish two men who actually executed the poisoning.  Marina wanted to follow her husband's request to blame Putin publicly.  The British government refused to cover it citing international concerns.  A lot of effort to reverse, but it is several years before we see an archived video of Prime Minister Theresa May announcing the Russian government's responsibility for the murder.  We are told that in September  of 2021 the European Court of Human Rights declared the Russian Government was responsible for the assassination.  

For motive we know that Litvinenko had been ordered to kill a Russian businessman and refused.  He was persecuted and publicly criticized Vladimir Putin.  He fled with his wife and son to Britain, went into their security protection and eventually became a British citizen.  Before Theresa May made her announcement, Putin made a statement claiming Litvinenko was so low he was below Putin's attention and certainly not worth killing.  Obviously Litvinenko was not below his attention.

Since that time we have seen other suspicious deaths.  Alexander Navalny got a dose on an airplane and fortunately the plane was diverted to a hospital where they knew what to look for and could fix it. 

Polonium is a word I recently learned more about.  I had read the word in news coverage of a few other Russian assassinations attempts. I thought it was an exotic chemical.  Tutoring an English language student we learned that polonium had first been discovered by Madame Curie who was looking for something else which turned out to be radium.  She named an unexpected element polonium as a tribute to her native country, Poland.  It is rare, but her discovery was not in Russia. The over riding factor is the cost of  mining it.  unless of course you have a pirority for needing a difficult to trace poison.   

Jim Field Smith was the director and an executive producer.  He had been a member of the Dutch Elm Conservatoire, a comedy sketch group that toured the United Kingdom.  He has 18 credits as a director and 15 as a producer. 

George Kay, wrote the script and was an executive producer.  He has 24 credits as writer, 9 as producer and 2 for directing.  He crated and wrote the scripts for  "Lupin" (2021-2023). 

Gabriel Prokofiev wrote the music.  He is the grandson of famous Russian composer, Sergei Prokofiev.  He has composed classical and electronic music with his compositions being performed by such orchestras as BBC Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony Buenos Aires Philharmonic and the Royal Seville Symphony.  He has 7 film credits. 

Ed Moore,was the cinematographer  He has 24 cinematography and 26 camera and electric department credits including "Shetland" (2018).

David Webb, was the editor.  He has 30 editor credits including "Sex Education" (2019-2024) and "The Gentlemen" (2024).

Mark Bonner played Superintendent Timmons.  He has 77 credits including "Wire in The Blood" (2002), "Line of Duty" (2014), "Grantchester" (2024), "Unforgotten" (2017), "Shetland" (2015-2020) and "Guilt" (2019-2023).

Margarita Levieeva played Marina Litvinenko.  She was born in Leningrad and had two grandmothers who survived the World War II Leningrad Siege.  In her youth she was involved with rhythmic gymnastics.  She has 38 film credits including "The Lincoln Lawyer" (2011) and "The Blacklist" (2013-202016).  Check

Sam Troughton played a key detective Brian.  He had performed on stage for both London's National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.  He has 40 film credits including"Foyle's War" (2012) and "Chernobyl" (2019).

Mark Ivanir played Alexander Goldfarb, a close friend of the Litvinenko family and an outspoken Putin critic.  He was born in Ukraine and immigrated with his family to Israel.  With the Israeli army he took by in a clandestine operation to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel.  After his army time he enrolled in a clown school and as a clown he traveled over Europe.  With his military experience and his lingustic talent he fit into a lot of films.  He speaks English, Ukrainian, Russian, French,Yiddish, Hebrew, Arabic and German..  He has 155 credits including "Schindler's List"(1993), "The Blacklist" (2014) and "Away" (2020).

David Tennant played Alexander Litvinenko.  He was the youngest student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.  He becme a prominent member of the Royal Shakespare Company.  He has 175 acting credits and 5 as a producer.  His films include "Foyle's War" (1992) "Hamlet" (2009), "Escape Artist" (2013), "Broadchurch" (2013-2017), "Des" (2020) and "Inside Man" (2022). 

Stephen Campbell Moore played the barrister Ben Emerson.  He has 61 credits including "The Lady in the Van" (2015) and "Downton Abbey" (2019).

American voters need to be aware that Vladimir Putin is someone who Donald Trump seems to admire and publicly supports.  Never forget that Trump took Putin's word against his own security experts.   Check

I watched a DVD copy.

As usual I have bolded the first mention of films I have seen.

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