The Fragility of Domestic Space within Corruptive NonPlace in Andrei Zviagintsev’s Leviathan
Keywords:Post-Soviet Russia; National Identity; Domestic Space; Leviathan; Andrey Zvyagintsev; Non-places; Marc Augé
In this article the authors analyse Andrei Zvyagintsev’s feature film Leviathan (2014) from the perspective of domestic space using Marc Augé’s theory of nonplaces. As in Zvyagintsev’s film Elena, the film uses a framing technique, placing the domestic space in question, in this case the site of Nikolai’s house, in the film’s central role. From the outset the house is depicted as somehow fragile and unprotected from the outside world, and, as the plot progresses, this vulnerability increasingly comes into play. The main instigation for the events which follow comes from the town’s corrupt mayor, who plans to purchase Nikolai’s house for a fraction of its true value and build a church on its site. This action brings Nikolai’s former army colleague Dmitry, now a successful Moscow lawyer, into the action, leading directly to infidelity on the part of Nikolai’s wife (Liliya), and, ultimately, her death, presumably at the hands of the corrupt mayor. The external corrupting force of non-place and non-language, seen clearly in scenes such as that at the city court, where the clerk reads the court’s decision at an improbably fast tempo, increasingly enters Nikolai’s home and family situation, and, ultimately, undermines, then destroys, the integrity of private domestic space and the lives and identities of those who inhabit it.