Country: Russian Federation
Original Title: Левиафан (Leviafan)
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
In Russia’s history, there was three “incarnations” of its football team. The first represented the Russian Empire until the beginning of the First World War, in 1914. This team did not play in any World Cup, because the tournament was born only in 1930.
The Soviet Union National Team existed from 1923 to 1991, when the Soviet Union itself collapsed. They played seven World Cups: 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1982, 1986 and 1990. Their best record being a fourth place in 1966.
I will not consider both these former incarnations for this World Cup Special.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the Russian Football team still only 26 years old and is the host of its fourth World Cup.
Participants in 1994, 2002 and 2014, they never passed the group stage. I am guessing 2018, even as hosts, they still will not be able to pass the group stage.
In 2014, I was at the stadium watching their last game in the tournament, a boring 1×1 against Algeria.
My first choice for this spot was Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris, but I only when I was about to start the writing, I realized “it is not Russian, it is Soviet”, so I decided to review something from the current Russian Federation.
I went from 1972 to 2014 and decided to go with the 2015 Oscar Nominee, Leviathan and I really doubt that the winner in its category could be any better.
Leviathan tells the story of Kolya, a family man having his home taken by the corrupt state. The script is a modern reimaging of the Bible’s Book of Job, even cited by a Priest in the course of the film.
Andrey Zvyagintsev, the director of Leviathan, had the idea inspired by the real story of Marvin Heemeyer, whose dispute with the town of Granby led to a rampage of destruction and his suicide. Later comparing with Heinrich von Kleist’s novella “Michael Kohlhaas”, Zvyagintsev realized that it was a story that could fit in any time or place.
We can also see the parallel with Thomas Hobbes’ main work, “Leviathan: Or The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill”, in the name of the movie and in the actions of the powerful presented in the movie.
In his book Leviathan, Hobbes says that the individual is free and evil by nature, but for the social well-being, the individual abdicates from this freedom leaving for the state the responsibility to bring order.
For Hobbes, the state must be unquestionable, superior to the will of any individual, protecting the society against their own destructive nature. The absolutist power proposed by Hobbes must enforce their rule even if necessary the use of oppression.
The powers in Andrey Zvyagintsev’s film are the administration of the state, the police, judicial system and even the church, and they use anything in their reach to achieve their objectives.
The movie is amazing. Its visuals are gorgeous since the opening scene, the characters are believable, relatable and make we feel for them, and we can say the same about the story.
The focus of the film lies with the common people. A mechanic, his family, his home, their friends, beliefs, emotions and what happens to them when confronted by a corrupt absolutist power.
The confrontation between common people and the state presented by Leviathan is direct, but we can see the same dynamic in our everyday lives with a non-direct confrontation.
It is a very emotional experience, lasting for practically every minute of the movie and it is possible because of the great execution of the movie. The location, the climate, every little aspect seems to fit perfectly to make this tragedy happen.
Even though I would like to talk about the movie in more detail, I am being very careful not to spoil anything and I think is very important to watch the movie without being spoiled.
That is the reason I rather end the review as is and with 9 Moons: