Leviathan

Leviathan ★★★★★

Whenever you call any work of art unique, time is bound to catch up on you and make you take back your words. But I'm going to go ahead and call Leviathan unique anyway.

Documentary makers Castaign and Paravel create a haunting and estranging vision of the harsh life on board a fishing vessel. In dark and grim colours they paint pictures so alien and bizarre that they come across more as surreal than grim reality. With muffled and muted sounds from the real world trying to break through in the background the pictures we are shown bob and weave from abstract surrealism to tangible realism, creating something akin to a fisherman's waking dream.

There is method in this madness though, as what we are shown is deeply symbolic in nature, a quality inherent to the treatment the medium gets here. In trying to convey something using only visuals, the syntax of Leviathan almost turns into sign language where one gesture can mean more than what it depicts. Leviathan is about the machinations of life and man's place in nature's order. We are shown here as brutal invaders, ripping life from the ocean with complete disregard of that which we are destroying. In doing so we cause and create new ripples in the ocean, that have yet another effect somewhere else in the food chain, a notion beautifully captured by the ever present flock of seagulls. We are the beasts, a lumbering leviathan trudging through the ocean to fill our belly.

Nothing in Leviathan is beautiful, yet the way it shows us what it wants us to see is drenched in beauty. They capture images that seem random and orchestrated at the same time and are always original and unique. There are also shots that are seemingly impossible to film, of which my absolute favourite is a lengthy sequence near the end where the viewer becomes part of the flock of seagulls that, like us, without scruples profit from what the ocean has to offer.

Leviathan is mesmerizing, estranging, captivating and intriguing. But above all it is a unique piece of art.

DirkH liked these reviews