drowned villages

Animation : Matthias Daenschel
Sound : Max Knoth

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The story

A dive along drowned towns and
cities opens a window to the past.

watch movieclip

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Toestemmen & tonen

the maker:

Matthias Daenschel

I love swimming and diving in the sea. However, I have never dived in the North Sea. So when I was researching my film, I watched a lot of documentaries about diving in the North Sea, about life under water, but also about treasure hunters and underwater archaeology. 

Reports and legends about the sunken city of Runghold surfaced again and again, but also about devastating storm surges like the Christmas flood of 1717. So I started to research historically, went to museums and art libraries, turned to collections and archives. 

A central finding of my research was the copper engraving by Johann Baptist Homann (1664-1724) with the "Illustration of the almost supernatural flood of water on Christ's day 1717...". I placed this work at the center of my cinematic work and designed my diving trip as a search for clues to the stations of a catastrophe. I chose different aspects of the flood disaster such as the ringing of the storm bells, the bursting of the dikes or the rescue attempts from the roofs of the houses and chose specific image sections of the engraving, e.g. the church, a barrel or a lifeboat.

In seven "dives", the viewer approaches these buildings and objects, only to be transported into the events of the historic storm surge in the form of a short flashback. At the end of the underwater search, I slowly zoom out to show the entire moving stitch and thus the full extent of the catastrophe like a completed puzzle.

For the design of the underwater world, I also used historical engravings, in addition to the work of Homann, for example, prints by Ludwig Richter and Albrecht DΓΌrer and other, partly unknown engravers. 

The creative approach of the film is historical, but the subject of the flood disaster is more topical than ever in view of man-made climate change and the increasing number of natural disasters worldwide.