Those wishing to know more about Leviathan would do well to also check out this fantastic review by fellow Flickfeaster, Chris Knipp.
When Leviathan begins it is in darkness. Not complete darkness, but everything is dark enough to make it slightly confusing. The camera moves around and stays close to parts of something bigger. A bit of chain, some metal, waves. Eventually, and thankfully, the view is opened up as viewers are given an experience that’s hard to forget.
A documentary that won’t be enjoyed by those seeking facts and information, Leviathan is an intense cinematic experience. It’s time spent on a large fishing vessel and it shows a lot that some people, certainly vegetarians, may not want to see. Fish are spilled out in vast quantities, still moving and fighting to the last. When being prepped, viewers get to see heads cut off and plenty of blood and guts being splashed around. Waterproofs, already glistening with seawater, become covered in red liquid. But the worker somehow manages to keep his cigarette in his mouth.
A testament to the people who go out and do this kind of work, a tribute to those who have lost their lives and an eye-opener (perhaps) for those who love to eat seafood without ever thinking about what it takes to get from the sea to their plate, Leviathan is an impressive feature that works on a number of levels.
The camera gets as close as it can at every turn. Ducking in and out of the water, lying in wait as a net is opened up and fish eventually cover the lens until all is dark, resting alongside a small gull that’s desperately trying to scramble up some wet wood to gorge itself on the fish that are all stored in the other side.
It may prove to be a bit too much for some people, the feature really throws viewers around, figuratively speaking, without mercy, but I encourage everyone to see this on the biggest screen possible. Hear the crashing of the sea against the hull, feel the chill and the salt water spraying on your skin (okay, I may be exaggerating slightly, but it felt that way to me) and smell the mixture of fish, sweat and oil on the deck. Okay, that may not sound like the most appealing prospect ever, admittedly, but it’s not supposed to be. Which is, strangely enough, part of its appeal.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: LUCIEN CASTAING-TAYLOR, VERENA PARAVEL
RUNTIME: 87 MINS APPROX