Haunting China: Ecopoetics of Zhao Liang’s Behemoth

Zoran Lee Pecic*

*Corresponding author

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Taking a close look at Zhao Liang’s 2015 documentary Behemoth, this article argues that the film employs the aesthetic of slow cinema and combines it with Marxist critique in order to generate an ecological awareness that pushes the boundaries of ecocinema. By suturing the slow aesthetic to the environmental destruction of Inner Mongolia’s landscape and the exploitation of China’s migrant workers, Behemoth reorients the viewing gaze from the spectacular and the exotic towards the self-aware and the introspective. The article argues that Zhao’s film, which featured in the main competition for the Golden Lion at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, self-consciously manoeuvres between a critique of China’s environmental devastation and the western audience’s expectation of viewing such a catastrophe as a sign of self-expression and self-critique.

TidsskriftAsian Cinema (Bristol)
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)235-251
Antal sider17
StatusUdgivet - 2020

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