The narration is sparse, save for poetic observations such as “hell has no place for them” (them being the miners, we presume), or, as the film’s final note “we are that monster. The monster minions”. Because of this, it falls to the cinematography to carry the narrative with lingering landscape shots and ear-shattering sound. We’re taken down into the bowels of the earth, across the Grasslands to the miners’ homes, and into the belly of the beast as the coal is extracted, day and night.
The monster manifests as the relentless industrial screeching of equipment, scarlet blaze of molten ore, and tinnitus-inducing explosions which disturb the brief stillness of zoomed-out landscape shots. The combined effect of seeing sweltering hellfire that makes your blood run cold, and the gradual exhaustion of the miners as they work, wash, eat and attempt to rest, is disturbing.
Ultimately, the documentary errs more towards art, and biblical references come thick and fast: the narrator mentions the “tempter of all desires” as a snake crosses the screen; the demonic Behemoth presides over an inferno; Ziang’s narrative looks to upset our ideas of ‘paradise’.
Your opinion of it will rest entirely on your expectations and interpretation of what a documentary should look like. If delving questions and in-depth reporting fit your description, then you will leave disappointed; we are never formally introduced to the film's subjects, nor do we ever really hear them speak. However, Behemoth far from fails in delivering a poignant, gut-wrenching exposé of our species’ ravaging of the earth and her resources, with this mining site as its microcosm. If you don't leave utterly bewildered at how destructive the need for a country's development can be, and perhaps a little frustrated at the length of certain scenes, you'll enjoy it on the grounds of its artistic merit, owed to the stunning way in which it was filmed.
|What||Behemoth film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
19 Aug 16 – 25 Aug 16, Times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more details|