From the Sensory Ethnography Lab’s website:
“In the very waters where Melville’s Pequod gave chase to Moby Dick, Leviathan captures the collaborative clash of man, nature, and machine. Shot on a dozen cameras — tossed and tethered, passed from fisherman to filmmaker — it is a cosmic portrait of one of mankind’s oldest endeavors.”
Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor, who established the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University in 2006, and Véréna Paravel, Leviathan emerges from a practical combination of experimental visual techniques and the analytical tools of anthropological and environmental studies. Near the time of its release, it was characterized as “perhaps the most radical work yet to emerge from the lab and certainly the one that goes furthest in striving for an immersive cinematic experience” (Dennis Lim, 2012). Film scholar Scott MacDonald has also written that the film’s “immersion of its audience within the audio-visual surround…feels not only overwhelming, but quite new in the annals of modern theatrical cinema” (2013, p. 335). These observations highlight Leviathan’s ability to grip viewers in a way that is unprecedented not only in the genres of documentary and ethnographic film, but in written academic works as well which oftentimes, as Castaing-Taylor points out, are “so devoid of emotional or sensory experience.” With its distinct aesthetic style – respectfully, overwhelmingly aware of the connection between emotion, audience, art, and life as it unfolds – one will surely not want to miss this mesmerizing cultural and cinematic portrait.
dir. Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
Free! Part of the series Sensory Ethnography Lab: Experiments with Cinema at the Harvard Art Museums