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Zhao Liang’s extraordinary documentary is a visually spectacular missive from the forefront of China’s industrial explosion.

Documentary 2015 88 mins Not rated

Director: Zhao Ling


Zhao Liang’s extraordinary documentary conveys the experience of miners at the forefront of China’s industrial explosion – in haunting and visually spectacular style. Following the incessant toil of workers at an Inner Mongolian coalmine, Zhao's camera witnesses the extraordinary limits and risks endured by the labourers powering China’s unprecedented rush for industrialisation.

While changing China has been chronicled by many of the country's modern masters (Jia Zhangke and Wang Bing among them), Zhao’s poetic approach to social cinema - built around searing imagery that’s beautifully composed and deeply troubling at the same time - is more obviously reminiscent of Western works like Werner Herzog’s Lessons in Darkness. An engrossing documentary experience, Behemoth’s monstrous and mesmeric imagery will linger in the memory long after viewing.