The Seemearmin is a Frisian fairytale from the Wadden Region about the love between a mermaid and a fisherman. Well, if one can call it love… The fisherman falls madly in love and uses devious methods to capture his prey.
He kills a seal and wears its skin as a disguise to deceive the mermaid and kidnap her, by stealing her red cloak. Without the cloak she cannot return to the sea and her two sisters.
The relationship is cursed, because if he touches her, the mermaid will first turn into hellfire, and then spread a deathly cold, and then go on to kill him with snake venom.
After years of marriage the mermaid decides to end this unhappy relationship. The fisherman realizes that ‘it’s now or never’ and kisses her. Although the hellfire descends onto the man, he survives the kiss. In the story the fisherman and mermaid live happily ever after: the mermaid loses her ‘fishy’ features and becomes a woman of the land.
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I decided not to let the story finish with the happy ending. In the animation the mermaid lives to a very old age and resides in a nursing home. She tells a young nurse her story. Soon enough we understand that she wants more from him than just a sympathetic ear.
She asks the young man to fetch her the red cloak, and with his help she slowly takes on the form again of the fish she once was.
In the animation she always kept the red cloak (or piece of fabric). This is crucial, as it allows her to return to the sea. So she wasn’t just an innocent kidnap victim; she had control over her own life. She got to decide for herself, whether she wanted to remain married to the fisherman, or if she wanted to return to sea, or both.