I've always been highly critical of the documentary genre. I believe it's a genre which, at times, breeds lazy filmmaking, at least from an artistic point-of-view. Many documentaries simply need to tell a compelling story to be praised, but personally, I want more than just the re-telling of a compelling narrative. Don't get me wrong there is certainly value in bringing such a story to the masses through the documentary platform, but the artistry behind the camera is sometimes severely lacking. This couldn't be farther from the truth when talking about Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Verena Paravel's Leviathan. The most banal way possible to describe this film is that it's a documentary about the commercial fishing industry, but that is selling this film extremely short. This film is an engrossing examination of a commercial fishing boat, displaying a piercing eye for detail, that guarantees it's like nothing you have ever seen before. With absolutely no dialogue, at least audible dialogue, Leviathan captures the various tasks and day-to-day activities which make up this profession. The film isn't interested in introducing the characters or letting the viewer get to know them but instead it has much grander ambitions. Leviathan sets out to capture the clash between nature, man and machine while simultaneously showing the collaboration between these forces which are forced to co-exist. It's funny to me that this film has been dubbed as experimental by so many, as if anything that doesn't rely on talking heads fits this description. The film is gorgeously composed, capturing the beauty and ugliness of this world while simultaneously disorienting the viewer in an effort to show the rugged life at sea. If I had one complaint about Leviathan it would be in regards to its length. Some will certainly find the film tedious and slow, and I wonder if making it closer to 60 minutes could have made it more effective. Either way, Leviathan is a great piece of documentary filmmaking that reminded me a lot of another great documentary in 2012, Denis Côté's Bestiaire, as both films rely entirely on visuals to make rather profound commentaries on aspects of the clash between man and nature.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.