Beginning with a mining explosion in Mongolia and ending in a ghost city west of Beijing, political documentarian Zhao Liang details the social and ecological devastation behind an economic miracle that may yet prove illusory. A journey through hell exploring the bestiality of civilisation.
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A mythistory that founds the struggle of the working class. The need for the suppression of labour, progressive and abysmally precarious in a blackmailer system governed by the capitalist fallacy of growth, is the demythification.
China produces the most coal yet miners don't get even shower, they rub their bodies with soaked rags. Classical recipe for a powerful state: don't give a fuck about workers. Accredited in the USSR where many major economic feats and works of infrastructure were done by inmates on whom the state spent nothing, who cared if they dropped off when so many remained? I heard Greymachine's "Disconnected" album all through.
We have met the monster, and you know the rest. Of course you do. A film like Behemoth isn't an intellectual enterprise--its now evocative, now overwrought Dante allusions notwithstanding. It is above all a sensory experience, a hypnotic, grueling, deeply empathetic immersion in other lives, or at least other bodies, being rather chilled and abstract in relation to the psychic lives we assume go on within them.
The alteration of landscape, the tech-obtained habitat. This is the place in cosmos we synthesized for ourselves, the only way we can call natural. A greenhouse creation that clashes with the definition of objective reality through abhorrent, self-inflicted wounds, which lips can’t be sutured without further additives. Concrete gargantuas silently oversee the pestilent passage in the mimicry of their old owner.
«Il quinto giorno Dio creò la bestia Behemoth. Era il più grande mostro sulla faccia della Terra. Per sfamarlo, occorreva il cibo prodotto da migliaia di montagne».
Viaggio attraverso l'inferno del documentarista cinese Zhao Liang, sotto la guida di un Virgilio portante uno specchio, lo specchio che riflette sul mostro, lo spettatore, l'uomo, artefice dello stesso inferno in cui si è gettato.
The framing device didn't work for me, but perhaps I don't know the Divine Comedy well enough to catch the nuances. I also agree with the criticism that since the workers do not speak, they are reduced to types. However, the film does capture nature of their work in great detail. It is true that there are many films highlighting the destruction of the planet, but I'm not sure presenting more details is a bad thing.
The long, still camera shots let the viewer really examine the subject; focus is on human faces and daily life. Amazingly clear, sharp images; I can't imagine how they got some of this footage -- especially the sections in what must have been near darkness/without permission. The recurring image of the naked man reminds us this is more artistic statement than documentary. Similar to Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi.