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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Leviathan [Blu-ray]


(Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel, 2012)


Released in the UK on Blu-ray on December 9th, 2013


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Arrete Ton Cinema

Video: Cinema Guild



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:28:01.609

Disc Size: 37,357,058,135 bytes

Feature Size: 25,528,725,504 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.63 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 22nd, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 4125 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4125 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)






Still Life/ Nature Morte (28:59)

• Theatrical Trailer (2:30)

• Liner Notes booklet with essay by Cyril Neyrat





Description: One of the most highly anticipated films of the year, from the directors of Sweetgrass and Foreign Parts, LEVIATHAN is a thrilling, immersive documentary that takes you deep inside the dangerous world of commercial fishing. Set aboard a hulking fishing vessel as it navigates the treacherous waves off the New England coast–the very waters that once inspired Moby Dick– the film captures the harsh, unforgiving world of the fishermen in starkly haunting, yet beautiful detail. Employing an arsenal of cameras that pass freely from film crew to ship crew, and swoop from below sea level to astonishing bird’s-eye views, LEVIATHAN is unlike anything you have ever seen; a purely visceral, cinematic experience.



The Film:

After the much-laureled nonfiction feature "Sweetgrass," British-born helmer Lucien Castaing-Taylor makes a sure-to-be-talked-about follow-up with the semi-experimental sea-fishing docu "Leviathan." Together with French co-helmer Verena Paravel, Castaing-Taylor lets loose his agile cameras in and around a fishing trawler off the coast of New Bedford, Mass., presenting the images -- which bring to mind everything from dark impressionist paintings to the work of Philippe Grandrieux -- without any context or commentary.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Leviathan,” a product of the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard, offers not information but immersion: 90 minutes of wind, water, grinding machinery and piscine agony. The experience is often unnerving and sometimes nauseating, because of the motions of the juddering, swaying hand-held camera and also because of the distended eyes, gasping mouths and mutilated flesh of the catch.

At other moments, like when the film tracks the flight of gulls across the night sky or plunges into the North Atlantic water amid a cascade of starfish, it has a dreamy, enchanted beauty. There are also passages of abstraction that are both beguiling and disorienting, in which it becomes difficult to distinguish big from small, natural from mechanical.

Excerpt from NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Leviathan comes to Blu-ray from Cinema Guild. As you can guess - this is not your average film! More artistic than documentary. It is an experience you get the most out of by simply allowing it to wash over you. It touches on avant-garde with its unique colors and unusual camera ministrations.  This is dual-layered with a high bitrate. Contrast, and colors, are frequently crushed - saturated to produce a rich, purposeful, psychedelic effect. A lot of the film is dark - shot at night or beneath lit areas. This Blu-ray image is excellent producing depth even with droplets of water covering the lens.  I was amazed with the breadth of the image but this film is not targeted to all audiences. I can't imagine many who open-up to it not appreciating the presentation.















Audio :

While there is no 'score' the audio, a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 4125 kbps, is a large part of the film experience. We hear the numbing repetition of the ship's engines and a mixture of white noise and hypnotically pulsating fishing-boat rhythms. The audio is impacting with heavy, head-pounding, bass and bubbling, crashing water juxtaposes the poetic beauty of the colorful images. There is no real dialogue and, hence, no subtitles. My Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Extras include Still Life / Nature Morte - which essentially looks like about a 1/2 hour continuous take in the galley of the ship? or at least the common area 'below' where sailors take a break (it is in 1080P). There is a theatrical trailer and the package has some liner notes with a translated essay (from French) by Cyril Neyrat entitled "Blood of the Fish, Beauty of the Monster".



Wow - what a cool experience - my mind was tracing to impressionist paintings. Leviathan is different than anything I can recall seeing. What an odd, beautiful and artistic artifact.  The Blu-ray is a wonderful way to embrace the film as it evokes such memories, feelings, emotions - as visual and aural 'event'. I was blown away. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

October 25th, 2013

Released in the UK on Blu-ray on December 9th, 2013


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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