Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
87 min | 2012 | France/UK/USA | Not Rated
One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries in recent years, Leviathan is a groundbreaking, immersive portrait of the contemporary commercial fishing industry.
Filmed off the coast of New Bedford, Massachusetts, the country’s largest fishing port with over 500 ships sailing from its harbor 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 labor or partaking in the longstanding tradition of turning fisher folk into images, filmmakers Lucien Castaing-Taylor (Sweetgrass) and Véréna 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 in the sky, the film that emerges is unlike anything that has been seen before. Entirely dialogue-free, it is mesmerizing and gripping throughout, and breaks new ground in both cinema and anthropology, while presenting a cosmic portrait of one of mankind’s oldest endeavors.