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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Leviathan aka 'Левиафан' [Blu-ray]


(Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014)


Coming to Region 'A' Blu-ray from Sony May 19th, 2015



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Non-Stop Productions

Video: Artificial Eye



Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:21:13.875

Disc Size: 38,514,441,152 bytes

Feature Size: 27,985,692,672 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 9th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio Russian 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio Russian 2643 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2643 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English, none



Making of Leviathan (28:13)
Interview with director (22:37)
Deleted Scenes (22:18)
Theatrical Trailer (1:46)





Description: 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.



The Film:

Kolia (the magnetic Alexey Serebryakov) lives in a coastal village near the Barents Sea in Northern Russia, running an auto-repair shop from the garage of his childhood home, shared with young wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova) and his teenage son from a previous marriage. The family's world is under threat: Vadim Sergeyich (Roman Madyanov), the imperious town Mayor, has slapped a compulsory acquisition order on Kolia's prime land, earmarking the site for a development of undetermined but dubious funding (and offering risible, token compensation). To Sergeyich's great surprise, Kolia enlists the help of ex-army friend Dmitri (Vladimir Vdovitchenkov), now a hotshot lawyer from Moscow. Dmitri has uncovered some highly incriminating evidence that he believes will force the Mayor to back down, even if he has secrets of his own. Soon tempers and passions are inflamed, events spiral out of control, and lives are placed at stake.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

The great trial of Job is reborn in this magnificent Russian movie, first seen at Cannes this year. Leviathan is a tragic drama, compelling in its moral seriousness, with a severity and force that escalate into a terrible, annihilating sort of grandeur. Zvyagintsev combines an Old Testament fable with something like Tarkovsky’s Sacrifice; it also has something of Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront or Robert Rossen’s municipal graft classic All the King’s Men. Kolia (Alexey Serebriakov) is a car mechanic with a modest property on prime real estate: a beautiful spot on the Barents Sea, but a crooked mayor called Vadim – a wonderful performance from Roman Madyanov, looking something like Boris Yeltsin – wants this land, and hits Kolia with a compulsory purchase order. Kolia’s old army buddy Dimitri (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), now a slick Moscow lawyer, has an incriminating file on Vadim that he promises will induce Vadim to back down, but attempting to blackmail Russia’s well-connected gangster class is fraught with danger. Leviathan shows a world governed by drunken, depressed men: everyone is drowning in vodka and despair. Kolia is at the centre of a perfect storm of poisoned destiny, at the focal point of smart lawyers, aggressive politicians and arrogant priests. The title refers to Hobbes’s Leviathan, the classic work about liberty and the state, and also the whale. A Dostoyevskian-looking priest speaks to Kolia about enduring his trials like Job, submitting to God’s will, as mighty as the great beast of the sea: “Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a fish-hook?” Yet Kolia has become not Job, but the beached whale itself. Stunningly shot and superbly acted, especially by Madyanov, this is film-making on a grand scale.

Excerpt from The Guardian located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Leviathan gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Artificial Eye.  It is dual-layered with a reasonably supportive bitrate for the 2.5 hour feature. The visuals are, authentically, dark with no noise visible in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio frame. The 1080P supports solid contrast exhibiting healthy black levels and some notable depth.  It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail - especially in the impressive outdoor sequences - and there are really no flaws with this HD transfer. This Blu-ray provides a consistent and pleasing presentation - the video being an important part of the film experience for Leviathan.






















Audio :

Artificial Eye give the option of a linear PCM 2.0 channel stereo of a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 2643 kbps - both in the original Russian-language. There is some crisp separation in the 5.1 but very limited aggressive instances of depth. Philip Glass (Koyaanisqatsi, A Brief History of Time, Kundun, Home, The Illusionist) did the mood-inducing score - notable is his Akhnaten -Act 1 - Prelude: Refrain, Verse 1, Verse 2 that evokes Koyaanisqatsi. Nothing but positives here for the audio transfer as well. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

There are some Russian-language supplements - with English subtitles. Making of Leviathan runs just shy of 1/2 hour and is a fairly extensive reflection on details of the production. There is a 22-minute interview with director Andrey Zvyagintsev which reveals more of the creative process behind Leviathan. There are over 22-minutes of deleted scenes that didn't make it into the final version with some curious shifts. Lastly we have a theatrical trailer.



Yes, I would say I thought of Tarkovsky a few times - in slow pans and the introspective Glass score as well as specifically framed shots (people from behind, landscapes etc.). Leviathan is a very dour tragedy... and a well-made one. This is a film that will change upon re-visitation. I think there are many layers her to explore - over time.  The Artificial Eye Blu-ray provides a very worthy a/v presentation with some appreciated supplements. World Cinema fans shouldn't hesitate in adding this to their digital libraries. It makes most modern films I see look so superficial and meaningless by comparison. 

Gary Tooze

March 7th, 2015

Coming to Region 'A' Blu-ray from Sony May 19th, 2015



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze






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