Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Oliver Stone on Vladimir Putin: ‘The Russian people have never been better off’

Why didn’t he challenge Putin? “It’s not my job to do that,” he says. What he wanted to do was build a rounded portrait of arguably the most fascinating and frightening world leader in a generation. If that is how he thinks, that is what Stone wants you to know about. He is not trying to change Putin’s mind, but to show it. Stone’s larger point is that Putin is not so very different to many world leaders – not even on social issues. “Obama was against same-sex marriage as late as, what, 2014, 15?” says Stone (it was 2012, but fair point and let’s not get started on the Clintons). “So, what’s the big deal? 

Everyone’s got to be on the frontline, and if you don’t mouth the politically correct thing, that’s what they do in America, every fucking show. Bill Maher says something stupid [the late night comedian recently caused a furore after he used the N-word on his show], and it’s like there’s nothing else to do but to have a sin-bashing orgy. That’s all. That’s all it is, they love to do this. To Trump, too,” says Stone. What does Stone make of Donald Trump? “Don’t bait me with that one,” he says. “That’ll be the headline. Instead of it being about my movie, it’ll be about this headline. “[With Trump and the press] it’s excitement, it’s a game, it’s fun, but it doesn’t satisfy the requirements of civilisation, which are peace, security, peace, security, peace, security. And we’re not aligning to that.”

Most of the reviews of Stone’s Putin documentary so far have been written after critics saw just the first two hours. They form a sympathetic portrait of Putin and his emergence from the wild west days of the Yeltsin presidency, which Stone describes a sort of “mad capitalism, and alcoholism, sort of like a Dostoyevsky orgy”. But The Putin Interviews do get more critical as the episodes go on. In the second half, Stone pushes Putin on hacking the US election, on the oligarchs, on how long he intends to remain in power. Putin’s sphinx-like mask occasionally cracks, although he remains the judo blackbelt... read more: