Leviathan is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in any genre, let alone in a documentary. We’re used to the typical documentary format of late from popular films like The Cove, Food Inc., and Gasland. A controversial topic is explored through narrations, vast interviews, visits to points of origin, sob stores, government inquiries and stuff. Piling us with information, teaching us a bunch in the most educational way possible. Sure, these films are often entertaining and give use the required information, but they still largely operate in the “plug-and-play” environment of getting everything across.
Leviathan is a different beast. The only thing we get is the cameras rolling on a fish trawler, and that’s it. Nobody to guide us, no talking heads, no interviews, no location changes. Cameras trained on the fisherman, the boat, machinery, animals, the hull. Everything is covered, but it’s up for you to take what you will. For some it could be boring to watch, endless minutes on end of seemingly minut activities for an hour and a half. It’s often fascinating and perplexing watching it all and trying to parse meaning. Or if there is any at all.
Normally, documentaries try to tell you something and come out pretty clear one way, or at least outline it for you. This is completely the opposite, do you take all this meaning to be a critique on our society’s method of attaining food and pillaging the sea, or do you see it as an exploration into the hard lives and hazards of the modern fisherman, or perhaps a commentary on the cycle of life and what it means. Or most simply it could be just some long shots that equal up to an hour and a half of people catching mass amounts of fish. The film goes to know extraordinary means to say which way it leans, anyone could be correct I’d image, it’s how you interpret it. What’s for certain is that the title is no mistake, “Leviathan,” a monster that comes from the sea, but is it man or animal? Nature or psychology? You choose.