Film-maker Oliver Stone has been criticised for “snuggling up to the Russian president” in his recently released, four-hour documentary series, The Putin Interviews. Described as a “wildly irresponsible love letter” to Russia’s president by the Daily Beast and with the New York Times heralding it as providing “flattery, but little scepticism”, Putin’s warning that Stone would suffer for what he has created is coming into sharp focus.
Critics are pouring scorn on what they describe as Stone’s unanalytical and overly-tolerant stance. In the first half of the documentary, the Russian president suggests he does not have bad days, because he is “not a woman,” and later adds that he would rather not shower next to a gay man: “Why provoke him? But you know, I’m a judo master.” The responses remain unchallenged by Stone, bolstering criticism that he is pandering to the leader’s sexist and homophobic impulses.
Stone responded, arguing that his job is not to change Putin’s mind but to reveal it to the world, and to paint a portrait of a powerful and controversial global leaders. True to his word, Stone’s documentary looks to delve deep into the mind and matter of the Russian president, both probing into topics such as the alleged Russian cyber-interference in the US elections as well as peering into Putin’s private dacha, gym, ice-hockey rink and presidential jet. But however fascinating the content and exposure of Russia’s mercurial political leader, the film’s lack of rigorous questioning has drawn ire from the West.
The documentary has been showing on Sky Atlantic since Tuesday, and will run over four consecutive nights. The Putin Interviews is also being shown uncut in Russia, suggesting that there is plenty of flattering content for the Russian establishment to make them blush, in Stone’s contentious “love letter.”