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A man employs a lawyer, to help claim the land he lives on from the corrupt grasp of the town Mayor. But this begins a series of events that throw him into a whirlwind of problems infusing every area of his life, from his family to his home. Leviathan is a Russian, critically acclaimed domestic drama with epic themes.
Nominated for the Palme D or at Cannes and winner of their Best Screenplay competition. Also won Best International Film at the Munich Film Festival.
Making of Leviathan
Interview with director
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Top Customer Reviews
First of all, as with all movies of this kind one should really speak the language (Russian in this case) to get the full impression. Subtitles are adequate, but a lot of subtleties are missing. This is not to say that you won't enjoy this movie -- just some things will be lost on you.
I do not really understand people, who claim that main message of the picture is exposing corruption in Russia. Or that it is somehow anti-Russian. Personally, when watching this movie I could not help but think how universal the story is. Small man's life gets destroyed once pressure from higher powers (ok, ok, it IS the corrupt government official in this case), disaster in personal life and his own weakness all converge on him in the short period of time. Yes, it shows some of Russia's problems (corruption and alcoholism would be the major ones) but, honestly, are they truly limited to Russia or even to outside of the Western/developed world? Besides, even in law-abiding society one may replace criminal mayor with the cohort of well-paid corporate lawyers to achieve similar result on poor man's life.
One more point to make -- critics sometimes say, that this movie is anti-religious or anti-Christian. This is not true. It is anti-clerical and against church supporting the power of state to the point of merging with it and forgetting its true mission.
I can somewhat understand why many people would hate this movie (particularly among Russian officials) -- its ending will fill you with wish to do something, to change the things. And these feelings can be easily directed to wish to blame the movie itself, rather than reality.Read more ›
The themes in the film are universal in the sense that it is a story of power, loss and despair. However I liked the insight it portrayed into Russian culture. This could be interpreted negatively but I think on balance it comes across as quite real. Yes it portrays the excess of alcohol and follows the stereotype of corruption but it also said things about the fight that people had in them, the belief that things can work out, the camaraderie, the ability to learn to be as manipulative as the next person to protect yourself.
There were more subtle messages too such as: what appeared to be a decent bus service in a rural area; the idea that the state would help someone financially to care for the children they looked after; the relatively interference free family drinking and shooting party; and the freedom of the young people to huddle around a fire and be together. That would rarely happen in the UK or USA without the sound of the police or a fire engine or a whining adult.
I appreciated the story this film set out to tell and the quality way in which it told it. I won't give away the end but I wanted there to be more. I was left reflecting about what had happened and wondering about what could happen next.
Like The Return, Leviathan is set in the coastal far north with its striking landscapes and seascapes. The title, referring to a giant sea serpent or whale, comes from the Old Testament Book of Job, in which a good man is smitten with all sorts of misfortunes. The Job-like character here, Kolya, not an obviously "good" person like Job, is threatened with losing his house and land to the corrupt local mayor Vadim, and invites his lawyer friend Dmitri to assist him. Things go from bad to worse, however, and the comparison with the biblical Job becomes more obvious, especially when it is spelled out to him by a local priest.
The film is also a condemnation of the corruption rife in today's Russia (state officialdom being equated to a kind of "Leviathan"), and it is surprising that the authorities have approved the film by entering it for the 2015 Oscars, especially as Putin's photo is prominently displayed in Vadim's office, the words "Pussy Riot" are momentarily glimpsed on a TV screen, and photos of past Soviet presidents are used as target practice in a shooting contest! Copious amounts of vodka are consumed by most of the characters, as well as numerous cigarettes.
Other "Leviathans" shown in the film are the rotting hulks of ships and the actual skeleton of a whale by the coast, plus a rather frightening machine which, to say more about, would amount to a spoiler.Read more ›
Impressive all the more so for its subtlety. It might not appear subtle in how it arranges for portraits of the current and past Russian leaders to be prominently displayed at certain points in the film, but the implications are significant to the surface story of endemic political abuse and corruption in Russian society. Even skeletal and washed up on a beach, the Leviathan is still a force to be reckoned with should any individual get in its way or attempt to foolishly take a stand against it. You aren't aware of this at first, and wonder why Dmitri, the lawyer-friend hired by Kolya to prevent the seizure of his home for a new development doesn't appear to be a little more confident of his position and the success of the appeal. He clearly has compromising evidence of corruption and goodness knows what other activities the mayor has been hiding, but it seems he is actually aware of the risks involved in disturbing the slumbering leviathan, and sure enough, without you quite knowing how, the beast has turned.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have seen a great many Russian films over the years. I imagine there are many more I haven't seen or heard about, but this one came with such praise, I thought I would try it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mark M.
a grim but no doubt true portrayal of Putinland, a feuday system where it is WHO you know that counts, and the the SLAV Church sanctions it allPublished 6 months ago by Judith
About the flaws of the human collective: individually we seem to know exactly what might be good and what might be wrong; in a society our convictions and behavior fall into a... Read morePublished 7 months ago by J. Luz
Not at all what I was expecting. This is a gripping and sad tale about moral and political corruption. It is well written, acted and directed and packs a mighty emotional punch.Published 7 months ago by mickv