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What a film, or is it a film? It is a collision of genres: there is beauty, industrial labour, death, water (yes, you’ll get sea sick), horrible slaughter scenes with lots of blood, amazing colours, intensive work, and very small cameras which explore our life on earth on their own. Leviathan is a stunning documentary filmed on the sea, and with the sea, near New Bedford, the whaling city chosen as the historic background for Melville’s Moby Dick. And thanks to seeing it yesterday at the ICA (it’s on for two more days), I think my year has started in a stunning way.

Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel, its directors, are two anthropoligists who work at the Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL), an experimental laboratory at Harvard University. Being interested in filming a shared perspective, you’ll find yourself looking at the organized killing of fish, fly with hungry seagulls, explore tattoos, looking into lots of large eyes, at hundreds of glittering starfish, some tired humans, listen to angry boat engines, hear gasping cameras, and find yourself amazed by beautiful pictures (all of this has their own say). It’s worth getting it on iTunes, too, if you have a good sound system – but be prepared to wake up at night to think about it.


– Director’s Statement on Leviathand: http://dogwoof.com/leviathan/filmmaker
– Philip Hoare’s excellent review: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/nov/18/leviathan-fishing-film-moby-dick

– Sensory Ethnography Lab: http://www.sel.fas.harvard.edu/

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