On the night of September 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov disobeyed military protocol and probably prevented a nuclear holocaust. He says that he is not a hero. ‘I was just in the right place at the right time.’ Watch the new movie ‘The Man who Saved the World’ and then you decide!
UNFOLD ZERO is helping to organise special screenings of this powerful movie in parliaments, universities and public theatres around the world during the week of September 21 (International Day for Peace) to September 26 (International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons). Let us know if you are interested in a screening in your city.
For a few crucial minutes on September 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov held the fate of the world in his hands. It was the height of the Cold War. The Soviets had recently shot down a Korean airliner. The United States was preparing to deploy Pershing II missiles in Europe. The Soviets suspected that the United States was planning a nuclear first strike.
In this tense time, a nuclear war was almost started by an error.
When an alarm suddenly went off at Soviet nuclear early warning center Serpukhov-15, Stanislav was responsible for reacting to information from Soviet satellites that five American nuclear missiles were heading toward the Soviet Union. Rather than initiate a nuclear retaliation, Stanislav went against protocol, and assured his colleagues that it was a false alarm.
He was right. His decision saved the world from a potential devastating nuclear holocaust. But he went unrecognised for this action for decades.
‘The Man Who Saved the World’ recreates those tense moments in 1983 when Stanislav was faced with the decision of his life. And it chronicles his spectacular journey to the United States three decades later, where he was finally acknowledged for his historic deed and found the strength to reconcile with his past.
Stanislav Petrov, finally recognised for saving the world
In the film we see him reflecting on the current state of nuclear tensions as he visits a US nuclear missile silo. He is honoured at the United Nations. And he is thanked for his actions by celebrities including Walter Cronkite, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Matt Damon, and Ashton Kutcher.
Shot on location in the former Soviet Union and the United States, The Man Who Saved the World shines a light on the continued risks of nuclear weapons today, and the challenge to reject nuclear weapons in order to prevent an unimaginable disaster.
Screenings in various locations around the world during the week September 21-26.
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Click here to listen to a recent BBC interview with Stanislav Petrov
- Watch the movie and then take action for nuclear abolition. See the International Screening Week – Nuclear Abolition Action Guide