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A groundbreaking, immersive portrait of the contemporary commercial fishing industry. Filmed off the coast of New Bedford, Massachusetts at one time the whaling capital of the world as well as Melville's inspiration for 'Moby Dick'; it is today the country's largest fishing port with over 500 ships sailing from its harbour every month.
Leviathan follows one such vessel, a hulking groundfish trawler, into the surrounding murky black waters on a weeks-long fishing expedition. But instead of romanticizing the labour or partaking in the longstanding tradition of turning fisherfolk into images, filmmakers Lucien Castiang-Taylor (Sweetgrass) and Verena Paravel (Foreign Parts) present a vivid, almost-kaleidoscopic representation of the work, the sea, the machinery and the players, both human and marine. Employing an arsenal of cameras that passed freely from film crew to ship crew; that swoop from below sea level to astonishing bird's-eye views, the film that emerges is unlike anything that has been seen before. Entirely dialogue-free, but mesmerizing and gripping throughout, it is a cosmic portrait of one of mankind's oldest endeavours.
"Looks and sounds like no other documentary in memory." Dennis Lim, The New York Times
"A highly original film of uncompromising, other-worldly beauty. Demands to be seen." Hollywood Reporter
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Top Customer Reviews
The camera work is very disorientating. It is disorientating for much of the film and initially this can feel like the gratuitous use of bizarre angles, such as those from cameras strapped to the ship's hull at sea level or rolling around the deck, severely reduced fields of view and focus, and image transpositions, all seemingly designed to suggest substance where really only some inchoate almost-form exists. However over time the sequences, which are often very long (think Bela Tar) begin to make sense, later shots allowing you to understand the place, both literally and metaphorically, of earlier images. Form then really does become substance, since one of the ways that this film can be understood and enjoyed is to realise that its images and sequences contrive to form an experiential whole.
It is also difficult to watch because some of the sequences of fish preparation and the inevitable waste that goes with this are quite disturbing. You don't need to be a committed eco-warrior, animal rights activist or vegetarian to feel queasy during sections of this film. However, again, this is not gratuitous and, in my opinion, is not even intended to deliver a particular message. This is a working fishing boat and what we see from the fishermen is neither casual cruelty nor callous disregard nor deliberate waste. Theirs is a job, a hard and a dangerous job, and this is how we consumers end up with neat, clean, abstract, fillets of fish in our supermarkets.Read more ›
If that's ok, then this is a good look at the life of a trawler crew and the way they operate. It's not sensationalist or political, it's just time on board.
So I was surprised with it for that reason, but it was still interesting. Check out some clips and you'll have a good idea of what's in store.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not much reason for me giving it one star. Haven't even seen it. Just felt like contributing a bad review because this film doesn't look that good if I may say so myself. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Anonymous
Total waste of money and more importantly, your time. To be avoided at all costs.Published 11 months ago by I BALUCH
I bought the wrong film as there are two Leviathans. this one is the documentary and I lost interest shortly after the credits. Read morePublished 19 months ago by S. L. Wilkinson