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  • 3.9
One of the most critically-acclaimed documentaries in recent years, LEVIATHAN is a groundbreaking, immersive portrait of the contemporary commercial fishing industry. Filmed off the coast of New Bedford, Massachusetts (at one time the whaling capital of the world as well as Herman Melville's inspiration for "Moby Dick") it is today the country's largest fishing port with over 500 ships sailing from its harbor every month. LEVIATHAN follows one such vessel, a hulking groundfish trawler, into the surrounding murky black waters on a weeks-long fishing expedition. But instead of romanticizing the labor or partaking in the longstanding tradition of turning fisherfolk into images, filmmakers Lucien Castaing-Taylor ( SWEETGRASS ) and Véréna Paravel ( FOREIGN PARTS ) present a vivid, almost-kaleidoscopic representation of the work, the sea, the machinery and the players, both human and marine. Employing an arsenal of cameras that passed freely from film crew to ship crew; that swoop from below sea level to astonishing bird's-eye views in the sky, the film that emerges is unlike anything that has been seen before. Entirely dialogue-free, but mesmerizing and gripping throughout, it breaks new ground in both cinema and anthropology, while presenting a cosmic portrait of one of mankind's oldest endeavors.

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" immersive experience, plunging viewers into darkness and chaos, amid a rush of vivid color and rapid movement." - Noel Murray, the A.V. Club

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Member Reviews (15)

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top reviewer

Wow!! LEVIATHAN Is the best raw "VisualCinema" to come along in a while! I saw it on a BIG screen at the MFF(Md. Flm Fst), and was knocked about with it and by it. It's alive! it moves with a lunging, asymetrical grace, like the sea itself. I was hypnotized by the unending barrage of images and sounds. Just letting it flow around me, helpless, in it's thrall.

5 members like this review

Although I appreciate what they tried to do and there are striking images throughout, I have to judge this based on what they actually did - and that falls short. As a short film this would have been a visual wonder, as a feature it too quickly tires and bores.

3 members like this review

That's basically my reaction also. It is too arty as a documentary. One or at most two stars.


I really like this movie in concept but I can't say that enjoyed watching it.

1 member likes this review

Terrible movie couldn't see a thing about what was going on.

1 member likes this review

But was there a point?

1 member likes this review

while I appreciate the art of this film, basically, it's quite boring.

1 member likes this review

Old-school horror. On par with Friday the 13th or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Who needs shellfish? Who NEEDS shellfish? A buoyant atrocity. Is there not enough beef and pork and chicken to go around? What are these men working for? When was the last time you consumed an oyster? Class warfare from the eye of the trenches. The sea suffers; the gulls win. Pay your respects to the gulls; they are your future . . .

1 member likes this review

Great subject. One great missed-opportunity for story-telling. Contrary to belief, amateurish does not equal great cinema. Really quite boring.

1 member likes this review
top reviewer

Beyond the stellar audio / visual presentation here lies a deadly flaw for this doc, poor editing. Even if the point was to show the boredom of their murderous voyage; this could've been captured in an hour long cut. The final effect regardless is dark & gritty, leaving the viewer wondering why less destructive fishing tactics haven't been developed.

Word of advice to all aspiring filmmakers. Never put footage of someone watching a laxative commercial on the screen. Take this advice to heart and never break this rule even if you feel some artistic reason for doing so.

I was terrified, amazed, horrified, disgusted, enthralled, transformed, exhausted, awed, and felt like I might drown, was drowning, and battered, and flying upside down, and crushed by chains with my eyes and belly popped out. I don't know if I'll be able to eat fish again.

Should be called "Fisherman Wears a GoPro".

Yes, there are some beautiful scenes, but if you wear a GoPro long enough you are bound to accidentally capture some. The art is in knowing what to leave on the cutting room floor.

Groundbreaking! O.K. Critically acclaimed! Maybe. But it did make me seasick a couple of times. For real.

excellent sound and vision

Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow!!!