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288 Ratings


Bei xi mo shou

Directed by Zhao Liang
China, France, 2015


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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Behemoth Directed by Zhao Liang
There are, as always, questions to be raised about that approach, but Zhao avoids exploitation. "I don't think that artistic works can change society," he told The New York Times. "They are very weak." He said he has moved toward making movies for himself, rather than out of a sense of social responsibility. And yet, with this movie, Zhao has given us the kind of illuminating art the issue deserves. He opts to reveal and persuade where others deign to preach.
August 01, 2017
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Beautiful to watch and horrifying to contemplate, Zhao Liang's experimental documentary BEHEMOTH considers China's coal industry, its negative effects on the environment, and some the people directly impacted by its devastations. Zhao captures stunning landscape shots of the mines in Inner Mongolia, presenting them like Renaissance-era paintings of Hell.
March 10, 2017
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It opens with a distant shot of some kind of excavation project. Mechanical shovels and earth-movers sit on ridges of land carved out by other machines and while all is still for a short time, that quiet is torn apart by a loud explosion that sends sheets of dust into the air. Black and red and grey and yellow dust. It's beautiful, just as the strafing of a tropical shoreline at the opening of "Apocalypse Now" was beautiful. Catastrophe seen from afar sometimes looks positively awe-inspiring.
January 27, 2017
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What are people saying?

  • Nadin's rating of the film Behemoth

    Absolutely stunning film about the beast that is civilisation and everything that comes with it. More thoughts on my website:

  • Jorge Sobral's rating of the film Behemoth

    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.

  • Alma de-a valma's rating of the film Behemoth

    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.

  • Matthew Martens's rating of the film Behemoth

    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.

  • affasf's rating of the film Behemoth

    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.

  • adalpi's rating of the film Behemoth

    «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.

  • ejonline's rating of the film Behemoth

    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.

  • Dana Dale's rating of the film Behemoth

    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.

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