Living up to the imposing enormity of its title, this doc stimulates both conscience and senses.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Behemoth is a stunning and moving denunciation of the situation in Inner Mongolia, where the mining industry is permanently changing the landscape.
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.