Leviathan 2012

When it comes to Leviathan, go big-screen or go home.

Few experiences in dark theaters can compare to the incredibly visceral ordeal of these lights, colors, textures, and sounds. And few words can do much good in describing them.

Apocalyptic. Alien. Clamorous. Calamitous. Grotesque. Dizzying. Suffocating. Bizarre. Funny. Awe-inspiring. Exhausting.

No science fiction filmmaker I know has given us scenes as otherworldly as these earthbound sequences. No space travels or alien landscapes have been haunted with spiritual darkness like this beast of a ship blasting through a turbulent night off New England's coast. At times, the reeling nets, the rattling chains, the grinding gears, the straining engines make this boat into a living thing, a monster ten times as fearsome as Godzilla. But this is a documentary, and the second from filmmakers Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel (Sweetgrass) to focus on the realities of hard work, the Herculean tasks of human beings as they battle against — and dance with — the immeasurable powers of nature.

The truths captured here are stranger, far more disturbing, and so much more violent than fiction.

When I staggered out of the screening, dizzy from the 87 minutes of chaos on the high seas, I sat down and felt like Roy Batty at the end of Blade Runner, exhausted and aching and wide-eyed with the aftershocks of unforgettable visions: "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe."

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