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Genders: Documentary

Director: Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel

Writer: Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel

Actors: Declan Conneely, Johnny Gatcombe, Adrian Guillette, Brian Jannelle

Year: 2013
Run time: 1h 27min
IMDB score: 6.4
Updated: 3 years ago

Movie infomation

Movie name: Leviathan

Genders: Documentary

Imdb Score: 6.4

Runtime: 1h 27min

Released: 23 May 2013

Director: Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel

Writer: Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel

Actors: Declan Conneely, Johnny Gatcombe, Adrian Guillette, Brian Jannelle

Box Office: $10.0k

Company: Cinema Guild


Imdb Link

Leviathan Available Subtitles

English subtitles Leviathan3 years ago
Brazilian Portuguese subtitles Leviathan3 years ago



The sea

7/10 An interestingly filmed documentary that suggests a sensory experience rather than just capturing the conventionally "beautiful" images of the life in the sea. If you wish to watch a film that has a conventional narration do not watch this. The camera seeks to document fish, birds, nets, man, the sea etc with the same curiosity and the same intensity, everything being of the same importance. The camera moves a lot in this process and sometimes makes you feel dizzy but at the same time this way of documenting captures the essence of this world where everything moves and swirls constantly. Throughout the film there is an insistent mixing and blurring between the sea and the sky, up and down. The scenes showing the masses of fish tangled in the nets suggest a comment on man's voracity. Beautifully recorded sound. A bit bumpy but an interesting and genuine experience.

3 years ago

Another experimental film taking the 'less is more' approach to art and filmmaking.

6/10 'LEVIATHAN': Three Stars (Out of Five)

Another experimental film taking the 'less is more' approach to art and filmmaking. There's no storyline, no character development and no characters for that matter. The movie 'LEVIATHAN' (not to be confused with the 1989 monster flick, of the same name, starring Peter Weller) is a collection of long random shots aboard a fishing ship. It was directed and written (if you can call it writing) by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel. I found it to be visually interesting but also extremely boring.

The movie is just a collection of random shots (that go on for way too long) about a fishing vessel. It's supposed to be some kind of a commentary on the fishing industry I think. There's a lot of shots of people doing various jobs, with almost no dialogue (and what dialogue there is is not important). It was filmed with waterproof cameras that are clipped to all sorts of people, animals (possibly) and things.

The film received rave reviews and I don't understand why. I think it actually would have been a lot better cut into a bunch of 5 to 10 minute YouTube videos. As a nearly 90 minute movie it's way too long and uninteresting. The shots look cool though and I guess it's kind of an informative look at the fishing industry and life at sea. It reminds me of another recent critically acclaimed but very boring film (with no dialogue) called 'ALL IS LOST'. In my opinion there's not much to it.

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3 years ago

They tried for something different, but went a bit too far.

6/10 As the movie progresses, it becomes more and more evident that it's actually an homage to the everyday lives of the fishermen. In fact, before the end credits the film makers dedicate the movie to countless ships lost at sea during their fishing trips.

So the film tries to give us even a slight feeling of the men's struggle, and the truth is it's successful at that. One can only feel uncomfortable seeing how these people get whipped by the cold wind and the rain and the waves, in the night, probably soaked to the bone, amidst thick layers of fish blood. The micro-cameras offer unusual angles and aspects, and a hint of lyricism is conveyed where an analogy of the struggles is attempted (the fish gasp for their last breath, the seagulls lurk for food, the fishermen cope with the hardship so they can earn the daily bread).

But ultimately the camera-dipping gets tiresome, the fishing routine repeats itself, and the lengthy shots result to boredom after the initial awe. The attempt for an alternative documentary (it could easily have been "a day on the ship", with jokes among the men, interviews etc.) is appreciated, but the film misses the mark.

3 years ago


9/10 I've never felt compelled to counteract negative reviews on this site before, but in the case of Leviathan I couldn't help myself. If I had come to this film expecting a traditional documentary on the commercial fishing industry, I may have been contributing my very own one-star critique right now. Then again, if I'd thought this was going to be a traditional documentary on the commercial fishing industry, I probably wouldn't have watched it in the first place.

Leviathan is definitely experimental (though experiential may be a better descriptor for it.) It offers no narration, no facts or figures, no conclusion or agenda. The only dialogue we hear is, for the most part, distorted to the point of abstraction.

What Leviathan does offer is an immersive, hypnotic experience. The sounds and images are alternately nightmarish, surreal and eerily beautiful. Even the rudimentary glimpses into the lives of the fishermen on board are rendered at an odd reserve, remaining as enigmatic as the seabirds we see throughout the film, crashing into the black waves. Experiencing this movie is like being transformed into an alien observer; the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Of course, everyone's entitled to an opinion, and I can completely understand why a person might hate this movie. It truly is a Rorschach blot of a film, allowing the audience to engage with it from almost any angle imaginable. I think that's where Leviathan's beauty lies. Anyone interested in what movies can show us should at least give this one a shot.

3 years ago

For Cod's sake

6/10 Directed by Lucian Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel, "Leviathan" is an experimental documentary set on a New Bedford fishing trawler. Both Lucian and Verena are members of the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University; sensory ethnography attempts to merge aesthetics with the anthropological study of people and cultures. Presumably the duo are attempting to impart the "sensation" and "feeling" of life on a trawler.

Is sensory ethnography an art or an academic field of discipline? Is it both? Isn't good art already anthropological? Doesn't good art already convey the feeling and sensation of people, cultures and places? Conversely, doesn't a good paper or lecture by an anthropologist – arguably a "type of art" - do the same? Why exactly does Harvard have a sensory ethnography department? Who does this department hope to reach?

Regardless, Lucina and Verena previously made "Foreign Parts" and "Sweetgrass", which delved into the worlds of urban chop-shops and rural shepherds. Both were comprised of interviews, dialogue, wide shots, and somewhat thin observations about labour, people and social relations. These films attempted to provide "insights" into their subjects.

"Leviathan" is a different beast altogether. Interviews, narration and dialogue have been jettisoned. Gone too are most medium and wide-shots, the film mostly comprised of close-ups stolen from small cameras mounted at odd angles throughout a fishing boat. These cameras capture roiling waves, dark skies, nets, fish, chains and much flopping, gasping and sloshing to and fro. The film is dizzying, disorienting, expressionistic, each shot like the pebble of a mosaic that never quite coalesces. Like obscure images torn from the swollen eyeballs of decapitated fish, "Leviathan" doesn't make much "normal" visual sense.

Fittingly, "Leviathan" opens with an epigraph from the Book of Job, a book which speaks of the impossibility of capturing a Biblical beast. "Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook," Job reads, "or tie down its tongue with a rope? Can you put a cord through its nose, or pierce its jaw with a hook?"

Do Lucian and Verena intend their film to be a similar statement on the "impossibility of capturing" certain "sensations" and "turths" via media? If so, good job. Or do the duo intend their film to be a "sensory experience" which honestly explores the sensory overload of commercial trawling? If so, then the film is mostly ridiculous. In the world of "Leviathan", fishing is a ghoulish horror-show, an unending blitz of stabbing sounds and discordant imagery. Here, everything is bathed in Old Testament doom and gloom, the oceans apocalyptic, the skies on fire and man and nature forever locked in a battle for supremacy; fishermen murder beasts by the millions whilst Nature reaches down and squeezes man.

But this is not the "reality" of fishing or the reality of fishing towns (see Frederick Wiseman's "Belfast, Maine"). It's more a freak-show for easily grossed-out First Worlders beholden to hand sanitisers, tampons, microwave dinners, anti-septic maternity wards and pre-packaged, bone-less meat. "Leviathan's" plays like a film about the working class which panders to the pampered and the intelligentsia. Assuming, of course, Lucian and Verena intended to make a film about fishing. For all we know, "Leviathan's" literally the adventure of a fish's dismembered eyeball.

6/10 – Worth one viewing.

3 years ago