2012. France/Great Britain/USA. Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel. 87 min.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014, 2:00 p.m.
Theater 1 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1), T1
2012. France/Great Britain/USA. Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel. Leviathan is the perfect title for this intense, exquisitely crafted portrait of deep-sea fishermen doing battle with their prey in the roiling seas of the wintry North Atlantic. Unencumbered by voiceover, narrative arc, linear time, or any other expository context, Leviathan immerses the viewer in an almost hallucinatory sensory experience. Multiple cameras offer disorienting, vertiginous perspectives; some of them are affixed to the helmets of the fishermen or placed in their hands—a dozen miniature waterproof GoPro video cameras in all—while others are tied to wooden poles that plunge deep under water alongside frantic schools of fish and manta rays, or soar high into the air beside scavenging sea gulls. The film is truly unlike any other that has been made on the subject, defying tidy definitions of the documentary form. It shares an affinity with Dziga Vertov’s radical 1920s film experiments with space and time, the abstract postwar cinema of Stan Brakhage, the paintings of J. M. W. Turner, and the prose of Herman Melville. Its profundity is at once visceral and metaphysical, provoking the senses, and the mind, into an uneasy but thrilling negotiation with the world “out there,” apprehending a world thrumming with the rhythms and urgencies of life, but also with the cold, brutal, stark darkness and motionlessness of death. Courtesy of the Cinema Guild. 87 min.