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Citizen X

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Director  Chris Gerolmo
Initial release  February 25, 1995
7.8/10 IMDb

Genre  Biography, Crime, Drama
Initial DVD release  July 11, 2000
Citizen X movie poster

Based on  The Killer Department  by Robert Cullen
Writer  Robert Cullen (book), Chris Gerolmo (teleplay)
Nominations  Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special
Cast  Stephen Rea (Lt. Viktor Burakov), Donald Sutherland (Col. Mikhail Fetisov), Max von Sydow (Dr. Alexandr Bukhanovsky), Jeffrey DeMunn (Andrei Chikatilo), Joss Ackland (Bondarchuk), John Wood (Gorbunov)
Similar movies  Mad Max: Fury Road, Blackhat, Untraceable, Sea of Love, Sliver, Fallen

Citizen x 1995 video trailer

Citizen X is an American made-for-TV film, released in 1995, which covers the efforts of detectives in the Soviet Union to capture an unknown serial killer of women and children in the 1980s, and the successive bureaucratic obstacles they encounter. The film is based upon the true story of Andrei Chikatilo, who was convicted in 1992 of the murder of 52 women and children committed between 1978 and 1990.


Citizen X movie scenes

The film is based on Robert Cullen's non-fiction book The Killer Department, released in 1993.

Citizen X movie scenes


Citizen X movie scenes

A body is discovered on a collective farm during harvesting in 1982. A subsequent search of adjacent woods, authorized by newly installed official, Viktor Burakov, turns up seven more bodies in varying stages of decomposition. The film tells the story of the subsequent eight-year hunt by forensic specialist Burakov for the serial killer responsible for the mutilation and murder of over 50 people, 35 of them children below the age of 18. Burakov is promoted to detective and eventually aided, covertly at first, by Col. Mikhail Fetisov, his commanding officer and the shrewd head of the provincial committee for crime, and, much later, by Alexandr Bukhanovsky, a psychiatrist.

As well as taking on the form of a crime thriller, the movie depicts Soviet propaganda and bureaucracy that contributed to the failure of law enforcement agencies to capture the killer, Andrei Chikatilo, for almost a decade. Chikatilo's crimes were not reported publicly for years. Local politicians were fearful such revelations would have a negative impact on the USSR's image, since serial killers were associated with Western moral corruption.

Chikatilo first came under scrutiny early in the search when he was spotted at a station and found holding a satchel bag containing a knife. He was promptly arrested. Unfortunately, he was shielded from investigation and released due to his membership in the Communist Party. Additionally, the Soviet crime labs erroneously reported that his blood type did not match that found at the murders. All this changed under the political reforms of glasnost and Perestroika, and the search for the killer began to make progress.

With the passage of time and easing of political restrictions, Burakov and Fetisov devise a plan to blanket almost all the railroad stations, where the serial killer preys upon the young and unsuspecting, with conspicuous uniformed men to discourage the killer. Three stations, however, are left unattended, except for undercover agents. Chikatilo is eventually discovered and identified through the diligence of a local, plainclothes soldier.

Arrested, Andrei Chikatilo is interrogated for seven consecutive days by Gorbunov, a Soviet hardliner who insists that he be the one to extract a confession. Chikatilo will not yield and, under pressure from Fetisov, psychiatrist Bukhanovsky is introduced. Reciting from his lengthy analysis and speculation, made three years earlier, of the sexually frustrated killer's personality and tendencies, Bukhanovsky gets a weeping Chikatilo to admit his guilt and answer specific questions about the details of some murders. Afterwards, Chikatilo leads law enforcement officials to the crime scenes and three additional undetected graves.

Held in a metal cage during his trial, a wild-eyed Chikatilo is convicted and sentenced to death. The film concludes with Chikatilo being led to a nameless prison chamber and shows him staring in shock at a central drain in the room's floor as a uniformed Soviet soldier delivers a pistol shot to the back of the killer's head.


The film was shot entirely in Hungary. The station where Chikatilo picks his victims is the Hatvan railway station, northeast of Budapest. The smaller, arched train shelter scene was shot in Nagymaros, Gödöllő and Szokolya. Several other scenes were shot in the Gödöllő Railway Station. The film was directed by Chris Gerolmo, who additionally wrote the screenplay (adapted from Robert Cullen's 1993 non-fiction book The Killer Department) in addition to playing a minor role in the film as a militiaman.


  • Stephen Rea as Viktor Burakov
  • Donald Sutherland as Mikhail Fetisov
  • Jeffrey DeMunn as Andrei Chikatilo
  • Max von Sydow as Alexandr Bukhanovsky
  • Joss Ackland as Bondarchuk
  • John Wood as Gorbunov
  • Ion Caramitru as Tatevsky
  • Imelda Staunton as Mrs Burakov
  • Reception

    Citizen X was met with positive reviews from critics and audiences. It earned an 86 percent score at the movie review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, and a rating of 7.6/10 from viewers and critics on the Internet Movie Database. Scott Weinberg of described it as "Fascinating and absorbing. One of HBO's finest made-for-cable flicks."

    Home video

    Citizen X has been released on DVD in the US (HBO, region 1 NTSC), Holland (Paradiso Home Entertainment, region 2 PAL) and Denmark (Scanbox, region 2 PAL). Though the film received theatrical release in some territories and was exhibited in widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio, all the DVDs reflect the 1.33:1 TV aspect ratio.


    The score for Citizen X was composed and conducted by Randy Edelman. It has been released on CD in the US by Varèse Sarabande.


  • CableACE Awards
  • Best Movie or Miniseries
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Miniseries (Jeffrey DeMunn)
  • Edgar Awards
  • Best TV Feature or MiniSeries (Chris Gerolmo)
  • Emmy Awards
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special (Donald Sutherland)
  • Golden Globe Awards
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV (Donald Sutherland)
  • Sitges Film Festival
  • Best Film
  • References

    Citizen X Wikipedia
    Citizen X Rotten TomatoesCitizen X IMDb Citizen X