LEVIATHAN (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel, 2012)



Starring: Declan Conneely, Johnny Gatcombe, Adrian Guilette

Genre: Documentary

Using cameras attached to the crew, nets and masts, Leviathan contains no dialogue and uses purely its long takes to document the workings of a fishing trawler in the north Atlantic.

When  a film starts with a quote from the bible, in this case verses 31, 32 and 33 from Job chapter 41, I think it is pretty obvious there is some underlying point to the narrative, no matter how random it may well seem to initially be. Leviathan also being the sea monster in the book of job, and that combined with a dedication at the start of the closing credits suggest there would definitely appear to be an underlying message behind Leviathan that is most certainly open to interpretation, but definitely merits discussion.

For the entire 90 minutes all we get is long takes from cameras attached to the crew, as well as parts of the ships as it sails through the ocean and catches various unfortunate fish in its nets. It is of course not a film that will appeal to all, but if willing to give it a chance, like me people may find it strangely engaging. There is a certain poetry and depressing pattern to what happens within the narrative. The long takes and intense close ups that the camera impressively achieves makes what sounds a boring narrative surprisingly involving.

This is also, despite its E rating, not a film for the faint hearted. The camerawork certainly evokes sea sicknesses at times and it is also quite a gory film. The constant sight of fish being gutted is not pleasant, but due to the camera being right there and it physically happening, it feels quite unnerving and I did find myself feeling genuinely sorry for the fish. As the bits that no one wants of these fish get thrown back into the ocean a pattern does develop within the narrative which, like so much of what we see, is very much open to interpretation. Immediately as we enter the final third what we see feels repetitive, but maybe that is the point?

This is of course very much a niche film that the viewer may take out what they put in, and trying to figure what it means (if anything) will depend on your personal views and experiences. However, it is a unique film that contains some genuinely memorable and haunting images that do contain an element of poetry.

Unique in execution and certainly open to interpretation, Leviathan is a film that will perhaps not appeal to far more than it does appeal to, but those who give it a deserving a chance will discover a unique and strangely haunting experience and perhaps add their own meaning to what they see.


About MoodyB

An extremely passionate and (semi) opened minded film reviewer, with a hint of snobbish.
This entry was posted in All Film Reviews, World Cinema and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.