Leviathan (Левиафан / Leviafan) is an acclaimed 2014 Russian film by Andrey Zvyagintsev. The film is an interpretation of the biblical character, Job. It is also inspired by the real-life story of an American, Marvin Heemeyer, who went on a bulldozer rampage over planning permission disputes.
Leviathan’s story is one of despair in the face of corruption as well as personal shortcomings. Although the movie received a great deal of praise at home and abroad, it did have its detractors. Many Russians objected to its portrayal of government corruption, orthodox church hypocrisy, and the average Russian.
As a result of this, despite the fact that the film received financial support from the Russian Ministry of Culture, it did not obtain a screening permit in the country.
Leviathan is set on a remote northern Russian town on the coast of the White Sea. The movie’s plot follows the hopeless descent of a local car mechnic, Kolya.
Kolya lives with his son and second wife in a house by the shore. Unfortunately for him, the corrupt local mayor is committed to expropriating his land.
Initially, Kolya fights the mayor’s plans with the help of a lawyer friend from Moscow. However, he finds himself betrayed when his lawyer friend and wife sleep together.
After that, the mayor and his henchmen threaten the lawyer with death. And so he leaves to Moscow.
Back home, Kolya corners his wife and rapes her, unwittingly in front of his son. A few days later, her dead body is discovered and Kolya is accused of murder.
The movie ends with Kolya sent to prison and his house torn down to make way for a new church for the local bishop.
Reception of Leviathan
Critical response and awards
Leviathan is Zvyagintsev’s most celebrated film. It competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, and Best Film Not in the English Language at the BAFTAs. It also won Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes and best film of the year at the British Film Institute London Film Festival. On top of that, in a 2016 BBC poll of 177 film critics, Leviathan placed as the 47th best film of the 21st century.
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