Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan tells the story of Kolia (Alexey Serebryakov), a man fighting to keep his property and family, that has been the brainchild of the well-known Russian film director for almost a decade. From the tragic story of the American welder Marvin John Heemeyer to Heinrich Von Kleist’s eternal novella Michael Kohlhaas to Thomas Hobbes’ book Leviathan (or the Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill) – the screenplay, awarded Best Screenplay at 2014 Cannes Film Festival, brings together an universal fable about the human condition.
After The Return, The Banishment and Elena, erudite Andrey Zvyagintsev sets to analyse power via the intersection of dominant and submissive behaviours. He primarily does this by using despotism and tyranny of a power hungry mayor – played by the breathtaking Roman Madyanov – and setting him against the power of nature: the ocean, the mountains and the mystical creatures of the sea.
Leviathan has some of the most cinematic footage I have seen this year. The director’s use of framing, off-screen, dialogues and its score is masterful. The movie is ambitious, haunting and immersive. Leviathan, which in biblical terms means creature of the deep sea, asks some fundamental societal questions.
Maeva is a French filmmaker living in Melbourne.