Screened as part of NZIFF 2013
The cinema becomes an immersion chamber in this intensely visceral account of commercial fishing aboard a New England fishing trawler. The filmmakers, Lucien Castaing-Taylor (Sweetgrass) and Véréna Paravel, place remote cameras on sloshing decks and into the heaving sea itself to submerge us in fish-cam Armageddon.
“Leviathan, a product of the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard, offers not information but immersion: 90 minutes of wind, water, grinding machinery and piscine agony. The experience is often unnerving and sometimes nauseating, because of the motions of the juddering, swaying hand-held camera and also because of the distended eyes, gasping mouths and mutilated flesh of the catch. At other moments, like when the film tracks the flight of gulls across the night sky or plunges into the North Atlantic water amid a cascade of starfish, it has a dreamy, enchanted beauty… [The filmmakers are] committed, above all, to capturing the profound strangeness of an ancient and embattled way of existence, for man and fish alike.” — A.O. Scott, NY Times