Citizen X, based on the book by Robert Cullen
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
Citizen X is a splendid film.
And it is based on a real story.
In the Soviet Union, a serial killer has been responsible for the death of over fifty people, over a period of many years.
Most of them were under seventeen!
- “Bondarchuk: There is no serial killer in the Soviet state.”
That is the official line of the propaganda and they send an “expert” who is hampering the investigation.
He is sure that the killer is a homosexual and he orders massive arrests of those known as gay, for no reason at all.
They actually catch the murderer at one point, but they take blood samples and the lab finds no match.
Stephen Rea is wonderful as Lt. Viktor Burakov, the man who works at the inquest and who says that the FBI has much better methods.
- “Fetisov: [grinning] How do you know that?
- Burakov: [exasperated] I saw it in a movie! What the hell difference does it make what the blood test says, you don't know what you're talking about!”
Colonel Mikhail Fetisov is portrayed perfectly by Donald Sutherland, who has won the Golden globe and the Emmy for this role.
The fantastic Max von Sydow is the psychiatrist Bukhanovsky, who agrees to help with the investigation and plays a crucial role:
- “Bukhanovsky: It is embarrassing to see grown men run from their responsibilities. It is like seeing your parents drunk for the first time. They are afraid. To be a psychiatrist in this country is to be an expert on paranoia... whether you meant to be or not.
- Burakov: Why aren't you afraid?
- Bukhanovsky: I'm sorry, do I look like a man of courage to you? I've always been interested in abnormal psychology, which is a dangerous thing in the Soviet state.”
We have a few Romanian actors in this movie and this makes it even more interesting for audiences here.
Ion Caramitru has a role in Citizen X, where is a policeman, but otherwise he is more famous locally as the director of the National Theater and the leader of the Professional Association of Theater Employees.
Citizen X is the name of the file opened by the psychiatrist aka Max von Sydow on the case of the serial killer.
In other movies, he would be The Profiler.
- “Burakov: [to Bukhanovsky, as Fetisov shakes the doctor's hand] He'd say something witty but he's overcome with emotion right now.
- Bukhanovsky: Thank you both. And may I say that, together, you make a wonderful person.”
The Profiler is not only good at describing the mad men, but he can also see accurately what a perfect team Burakov and Fetisov make.
Indeed, it is the intelligence, resilience, determination, hard work of Viktor Burakov that moves the inquiry along.
But without the diplomacy, the games played, energy, Emotional Intelligence and unscrupulous manner of Fetisov the killer would have never been caught.
- “Fetisov: You spend enough time with a lion, the idea of roaring starts to seem more and more reasonable.”
The film is not just a very good thriller, but it also offers insight into the Soviet system, or that of any tyranny for that matter.
- It is not what you know, but whom you know that matters
As I lived under the communist regime brought here by the comrades of the apparatchiks that appear in the film, I know that we came across this disastrous problem all the time and so did the protagonists of Citizen X.
- “Burakov: You handled him quite deftly.
- Fetisov: I've had it. I will not suffer that stupidity anymore!
- Burakov: He may be stupid, but he's in charge.”
This is a very good movie and an excellent portrayal of dictatorship, with its flaws, false pretenses and multiple failures.