Minja, daughter of sea queen Walja, longs to live in the human world, but she’s destined to marry sea king Scholper. Minja doesn’t want to marry him: she finds Scholper a cold, loveless being, without feelings. Then she sees a young man on the beach, playing guitar and singing a beautiful song. She falls in love instantly.
On the wedding day Scholper searches for his bride, but she’s swum towards the beach, in search of her lover. The young man jumps into the sea, in a desperate attempt to reach Minja. Then Scholper sets off a storm...
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This film is based on a Frisian fairytale: Minja, daughter of the sea queen, by J.P. Wiersma.
What really appealed to me about this story, was that a large part takes place under water. I found inspiration for this underwater life in the animals and plants that live in the Wadden Sea.
The form I chose was cut-out animation. I mainly work with paper. The décor is made up out of flat sections in combination with 3D elements. What I like about this simple form, is the powerful suggestion it evokes.
I was inspired by Reiniger (1899 – 1981), among others, who was known for her silhouette animations. She used to work on a glass table on which she placed the décor and the figures, and moved them frame by frame.
I use a different method. The decors in this film are set up as 3D decors, and the figures are usually controlled by little rods. This goes back to the ancient technique of shadow puppeteering. I only let the guitarist in the story come to life through stop motion; he was added to the décor digitally.
It was a challenge to tell this story without words. It’s great to see how imagery can replace spoken language, and it can even make complex matters easy to understand. The music plays an important role too. The composer, Robert van der Tol and I worked closely together. He was able to translate the ambience beautifully into music. This wasn’t an easy task, as the film includes many mood changes, in a short period of time.