Some movies raise questions as to how they got made — and then how they found a way to get released. The Man Who Saved the World, however, is a polar opposite case. The question is, what the heck took so long to get this movie released? Having played to enthusiastic audiences at the Starz Denver Film Festival in November 2014, the film is now — slowly — making its way into the theatrical circuit in the United States beginning in September 2015.
It’s an incredible true story, told as part documentary following the life of Stanislav Petrov and part dramatization of the tense events he faced in 1983. Those events include the potential for a full-on nuclear war with the United States and the tragic death of Stanislav’s wife.
Some of the documentary footage dates back to 2006. This movie truly was years in the making, and the dedication of first-time director Peter Anthony pays off as Stanislav’s personal story is enriched with attempts to resolve hard feelings with his mother and come to terms with how his life has played out.
During a U.S. tour, Stanislav is honored at the United Nations and goes on to meet his idol, Kevin Costner, while visiting the set of The Guardian (co-starring Ashton Kutcher); it’s a demonstration of the man’s far-reaching life and his own inner drama. Robert DeNiro puts in a cameo and so does Matt Damon (both on the set of The Good Shepherd). Damon quite humorously turns into the unwitting butt of some “who the heck is he?” comic relief.
Throw in today’s chilly relations with Russia and Vladimir Putin’s chest thumping and the story of The Man Who Saved the World is all the more relevant now and worthy of a much wider audience.
The following interview with director Peter Anthony, recorded at the filmmakers lounge during the Starz Denver Film Festival, begins with a few moments from the movie’s trailer. I apologize for the background noise during the interview; lessons learned on many fronts.