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Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult but unforgettable, 8 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Leviathan [DVD] (DVD)
This is a difficult film to watch, for a number of reasons, but if you can stay with it it evolves into an extraordinary experience that remains with you in beautiful and unsettling ways long after the film has ended.

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. Since most of us are entirely divorced from the reality of food production it is chastening to witness how the sanitised presentation of fish, and by extension of meat and poultry, begins.

And this to me is the film's most important "message". It simply says "Be aware". Make your choices, make your decisions, but at least do so from a position of relative knowledge and relative first hand experience. Certainly in this case it seems to me a far more powerful technique than polemic.

But remember the first sentence, rephrased: This is a difficult film to watch but stay with it for it it evolves into an extraordinary experience that remains with you in beautiful and unsettling ways long after the film has ended.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Nov 2015 08:56:40 GMT
Excellent review and much more informative than many others on this film. Thanks.
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