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China, France · 2015
1h 35m
Director Zhao Liang
Genre Documentary

Zhao Liang's beautiful but devastating documentary - which has been banned for distribution in China - captures the environmental, sociological, and public health effects of the coal mining industry in China and inner Mongolia. Full of interviews with workers suffering the effects of a life digging coal and stunning shots of the decimated landscapes that used to be sites of meadows and agricultural societies, this film is a call to action for anyone concerned about capitalism's effects on the environment.

Stream Behemoth

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What are critics saying?


Total Film by

Living up to the imposing enormity of its title, this doc stimulates both conscience and senses.


The New York Times by Ben Kenigsberg

Behemoth proceeds placidly, making it easy to become lulled. Its haunting power grows in retrospect — as if you’ve returned from a journey and can’t believe what you’ve seen.


Village Voice by Calum Marsh

This is a film about the devastation of Inner Mongolia and the systematic annihilation of its migrant workers, but it is no mere coup d'œil of righteous advocacy. It is a work of film art.


Empire by David Parkinson

Filled with striking and scarringly disconcerting images of vandalised nature, satanic mills and redundant modernity, this is a mournful tribute to a maligned migrant workforce and a sobering reminder that nothing comes cheap.

100 by Glenn Kenny

This film, directed by Zhao Liang (acclaimed here for his 2009 “Petition”) is a kind of poetic documentary. It’s all images and sounds, no interviews, no talking heads.


The A.V. Club by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

Zhao, who acts as his own cinematographer, has a great eye for scale and contrast, and the less Behemoth points out its symbolism, the more potent it becomes.


The Film Stage by Jared Mobarak

There’s just one thing missing from Zhao Liang‘s visually masterful documentary Behemoth: a before image of what this wasteland of coal and rock used to be before God’s beast was unleashed.


CineVue by John Bleasdale

Behemoth is a stunning and moving denunciation of the situation in Inner Mongolia, where the mining industry is permanently changing the landscape.


The Guardian by Mike McCahill

What this exceptionally lucid film-survey reveals is what has to go on at ground level, and beneath the surface, in order to power a powerhouse.

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