Posted 4 апреля 2022,, 11:11

Published 4 апреля 2022,, 11:11

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:36

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:36

Shot from the movie "Citizen X"

“I'd plant potatoes with my wife ...” What was Chikatilo in life, and what did he become in the cinema

4 апреля 2022, 11:11
Shot from the movie "Citizen X"
Oddly enough, but the most adequate film about the famous serial killer was filmed not in Russia, but in America.

Sergey Mitrofanov

The maniac shot in 1994 is still remembered today. The thirtieth anniversary of the execution of the first known serial killer in the USSR is approaching, although it is difficult to call this date “glorious”. In honor of the event, the two-season TV series “Chikatilo” by Sarik Andreasyan was released on Russian television screens, about which in film circles they say that he is talented in terms of attracting money to his projects, but he does not understand point-blank what cinema is.

Nevertheless, the Chikatilo project seems interesting, especially in terms of the script. The fact is that the image of the first Soviet "serial" excited filmmakers for a long time. Oddly enough, a good film about him was made by the Americans - "Citizen X", 1994, USA-Hungary, in which the Soviet time is shown even more reliably than in the current Russian version. There, besides, generally recognized stars played there - Donald Sutherland (played General Fetisov) and Stephen Rea (played Viktor Burakov), and the film was directed by the famous "Mississippi on Fire" director Chris Gerolmo.

In early 1993, I myself participated in the initial stage of the Chikatilo project, financed by a Russian private bank and a certain Young Banker. The bank sent me to Rostov to collect materials about Chikatilo as a journalist, which could later be included in the planned world blockbuster. The bank also arranged my visit to the death row, where I could see with my own eyes a terrible man who had already been sentenced to death. Obviously, this was to leave a lasting impression on me.

Sitting on the edge of the table and dangling his legs, the Young Banker showed uncommon determination. It turns out that he had already planned Jack Nicholson for the role of Chikatilo, who, as it was said, "will soon be made an offer that he cannot refuse." (Comparing the photos of Nicholson and Chikatilo, one can only congratulate the financier with a good eye and a good choice.)

It was supposed to spend on the script insignificant by world standards, which in itself did not at all serve as an obstacle to my participation in writing it. However, we immediately disagreed on the concept. When I, showing principles, suggested focusing on The Silence of the Lambs or The Postman Who Knocks Twice, the Young Banker grimaced: “No, we don’t need excessive psychologism, we want to make an aesthetic movie like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”. Lots of sex, lots of beautiful Penthouse women, sadism is more of a dotted line”.

Naturally, the Rostovites, in obedience to duty, did not let me go to prison, but when I was already finishing my work, they nevertheless became uncomfortable in front of the Young Banker, and they finally caved in, allowing five minutes by the hour to see the "object" on death row . To be honest, I still ask myself what it even means to talk to a suicide bomber who is in line for a bullet, like in line to the dentist? Also, I confess, there was an irrational fear that I would go into prison, but would I leave?

I will not describe either the clang of locks or the coldness of the corridors. In addition to me, several hefty two-meter guards (“torpedoes”, as Daniil Koretsky called them), as well as the main Detective (Viktor Burakov), who looked at his watch, were crowded into the cell - what if Ch. says something new and unexpected? He did not say the new Ch., just as he did not say what my bankers needed. “I no longer know what happened in that life,” the Forestbelt rustled rather figuratively. - I'm already in the other world. I'm already flying with all the planets in a closed jar".

The Detective intervened: “Andrei Romanovich, do you regret the crimes you committed?”

“I remember my life and regret that I devoted it all to the victory of world communism. I didn’t commit any crimes”, - Chikatilo answered meticulously.

“And if you were released, what would you do?”, - I asked.

“I would plant potatoes, dig a garden with my wife”.

Leaving, the Detective found a wonderful wording of farewell: "Well, then happy for you, Romanych!".


The film did not work then, because the Young Banker was shot six months earlier than, in fact, Chikatilo. But the materials that I, among other things, collected in the nineties, obviously ended up in Sarik Andreasyan's series.

The scriptwriters managed to convey the idea of a purely Russian paranoia, when the Soviet people, faced with a certain shocking phenomenon for themselves - the presence of a serial killer in the region, looked for an answer in a universal "explainer" about the intrigues of the West and foreign agents wrecking the Motherland. The reasons for the initial “crippledness” of “Romanych” are not ignored in the materials: hunger in childhood, as a result of which he allegedly ate his brother. It is also possible that he saw the execution of his compatriots and himself was “undershot” by the Germans during the occupation.

It is significant that Romanych elevated the principle of Soviet doublethink to an absolute, becoming a serial killer and a sadist, but at the same time taking a course in great Russian humanistic literature at the University. Later, having improved his humanitarian qualifications at the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, he, hearing the hypnotizing rustle of leaves in the forest belt, went to his cruel trade, gutting both women and children.

The aspect that I noticed in my first article about Chikatilo is not ignored. After all, in the end it was destroyed by the Chikatilo Society.

While they were catching, everyone quarreled with everyone, casually shot several inappropriate people, intimidated, terrorized, ignored legal procedures, manipulated evidence, went crazy at the workplace. (Burakov admitted that something was beginning to seem to him.) And finally, having lied that they were sending him for a new examination, they shot Romanych in the back of the head.

It cannot be said that Sarik Andreasyan managed to film all this.

His Soviet society is not similar to itself (in Chris Gerolmo it is more similar), and the characters turned out to be quite stilted, if not caricatured. But the attempt is worth it. In any case, it made me remember a lot and think about a lot.