Illusion of Fear

Illusion of Fear / Ілюзія страху

Published: November 28, 2016

Illusion of Fear (Ілюзія страху) is a 2008 Ukrainian drama/thriller film. It is the screen adaptation of a novel by Oleksandr Turchynov (Олександр Турчинов), a Ukrainian politician—he is currently the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, and was the acting president of Ukraine after Yanokovych’s ouster, before Poroshenko took office. In terms of his writing career, Illusion of Fear is his best-known novel, though he has written several others; he has also written a number of monographs about government corruption. Additionally, he contributed to writing the film’s screenplay.

Illusion of Fear takes place in the 1990s and tells the story of Igor Korob (Игорь Короб), a successful businessman struggling to deal with the current inhospitable economic circumstances. But his problems are vastly magnified when he is illegitimately arrested and the authorities attempt to force him to stop his business activities. He undergoes physical and psychological torture but is ultimately released. He swears revenge on his torturers, but not long after his release he falls into a sort of double consciousness, in which he believes he is King Solomon, the Biblical character. Unable to believe even his own eyes, he has no idea what is real and what isn’t. The film moves back and forth between the supposedly real present day and Biblical times.

The film received middling reviews from viewers and pretty good critical estimation. It was also Ukraine’s entry to the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film in 2008. Reviewers pointed out its originality and strangeness, with its all-star cast of actors, most of whom played at least two roles. The RusKino reviewer also found a unique takeaway from the film—that perhaps someday businessmen’s worth in society would be valued, on a par with that of farmers and the intelligentsia.


Director: Oleksandr Kiriyenko (Олександр Кірієнко)
Stars: Andrei Panin (Андрей Панин), Alyona Babenko (Алёна Бабенко), Oleksiy Gorbunov (Олексій Горбунов), Sergiy Garmash (Сергій Гармаш), Inga Oboldina (Інга Оболдіна)
Production company: Aurora Productions


Official trailer:


Illusion of Fear

About the author

Julie Hersh

Julie studied Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk and before that, Bishkek, with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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