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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Berezovsky's Life Heads for Screen

Movie director Pavel Lungin is putting together a $5 million film loosely based on the life of Boris Berezovsky that he thinks will be "The Godfather" to a new generation.

The film will be based on the novel "Bolshaya Paika," or "The Big Slice," penned by Yuly Dubov, the director of Berezovsky's automobile giant LogoVAZ. The book tells the tale of a car dealer's rise to riches and oligarchy.

Dubov rather coyly denied in a telephone interview that the main character is Berezovsky.

"It's not a portrait," Dubov said. "It's about Russian business."

But Lungin, who currently lives in Paris, has no qualms about saying that the novel's main character, Platon, is based on Berezovsky.

"[He is] elusive, unpredictable, charming and at the same time cold and frightening but nevertheless loved by many," Lungin was quoted as saying in a recent interview with Moskovskiye Novosti.

Lungin likens the film to director Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather," a comparison that would probably not sit well with Berezovsky, who at one time sued Forbes magazine for calling him the godfather of the Kremlin.

"The myth of Prometheus came into my mind," said Lungin. "He was the first oligarch."

In the Greek legend, Prometheus took the secrets of fire to give to man.

"He stole fire — or you could say he privatized it," said Lungin.

Then, Lungin added, Prometheus gave fire in its different forms — oil and gas, for example — to the people, but the gods were enraged and punished him as a criminal.

In the legend, Prometheus was chained to a mountain and everyday an eagle would come and tear out his liver, which would then grow back.

Berezovsky, as a more modern-day oligarch, has had it slightly easier since the 1990s, when he controlled vast oil assets.

He is living in self-exile in France rather than a mountain — claiming he is under attack from the Kremlin — and his liver appears to be intact.

Lungin's vision for the film is more symbolic than an action thriller, a tale of the wilds of capitalism after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"I'm not making a film about a millionaire, I'm making a film about a soul, about the loss of soul," Lungin said.

"It's a serious question who we are and what we have become in the past 10 years," he said.

"It's the pain of our generation. It's us who sold, who betrayed [everyone] including ourselves. It's us who thought we were united, but we were cruelly mistaken."

Lungin said the book's story about a car dealer was too limited. The film will also touch on oil, television and elections, much like Berezovsky's career, which began with cars and stretched to much more.

One scene from the film, published in Moskovskiye Novosti, shows Platon visiting a graveyard and the grave where he should have been buried after an assassination attempt.

While he stands at his grave, drinking vodka, he is interrupted by the police, ordering him to move on.

"Calm down, lads," says Platon, "I'm OK. It's my grave."

The police don't believe him until he points to the portrait engraved on the gravestone. As they recognize him, one says "Hey, it does look like him," and they start to beat him.

Later, a bloodied Platon turns to them and asks "Why?"

"Because you look like him," says the policeman.

In real life, Berezovsky survived an apparent assassination attempt in 1994 when a bomb exploded under a car he was in, killing his bodyguard.

The film's $5 million budget is being funded by Russian and French investors. Berezovsky is not an investor, although he has read the script, according to Dubov.

Filming is scheduled to be completed next year, Interfax reported.

But the main problem first is finding an actor to play Berezovsky.

Lungin said he wants a well-known Hollywood actor like Al Pacino, John Malkovich or Dustin Hoffman.

"Many actors when they read the script say that it's an amazing role [but] refuse it," he said. "They're scared that they won't be able to handle it."