Thursday, Aug 18, 2016
Verena Paravel and Lucien Castain-Taylor
A camera looks up at the sky as seagulls follow a fishing boat for the detritus left behind. Then the image topples. Birds are upside down, the water rushing above them. None of this is unusual within the context of Leviathan, which says a lot about how well the filmmakers prepare us to see the world reversed.
Leviathan was made at the sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University, and its filmmakers, Lucien Castain-Taylor and Verena Paravel, both have backgrounds in art and photography. Coming at filmmaking with an arts outlook, they’re inclined to veer away from the mainstream and push the limits of the medium. There is no dialog in the documentary, for instance. No direct dissemination of information. No clear point of view.
What the film does have is a fresh perspective. Shot off the coast of New England, the filmmakers used GoPro cameras that move inside, around, off the boat, in the air and under the water, also among the crew. The cameras vacillate between being seemingly absent or clearly aggressive, of belonging as much to the sea as to man. Leviathan is unlike any other documentary and well worth the short 87 minutes it takes to watch.