Yours truly was lucky enough to see Leviathan last night, a new documentary by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel. It’s about commercial fishing in the North Atlantic, but that makes it sound so simple……
The above images may help convey the abstract nature of the film. It’s beautiful. It’s also disorienting and visceral. The film is shot with tiny digital cameras mounted in every conceivable location. You see inside, outside, above water and underwater. There are times when the viewer is totally unsure what they are seeing. The amazing thing watching Leviathan are the transitions. They move from abstract shapes and colors (reminiscent of Stan Brakhage) to recognizable images. The sound too is overwhelmingly incredible. There are underwater shots (from the fishing net), where you can just barely make out the grunts and groans of the massive machinery required to pull up the long nets. I closed my eyes a few time, just to listen (something I rarely do at a movie).
You will also see the two fastest oyster shuckers known to man…….
I would not recommend this film to folks who might be prone to seasickness, also know that the fish butchery is rather intense. Real, but intense. I didn’t find the film to be some sort of anti-fishing, pro-animal rights affair, but rather a meditation on the sea itself. The shots of humans actually read much like the shots of the fish.
The ocean itself is the real star of this movie, which seems very deserved, particularly after all the crap we’ve done to it.
I would HIGHLY recommend this film to anyone who likes to see something different. As a film, the mechanics of it are totally unique. I actually had to just shut my eyes for a minute or two to re-orient myself. Everyone knows the ocean is there, but you’ve never
experienced it like this.