Jurk Jensen is a tough sailor, but when he gets caught up in a major storm, he begs to be rescued. In return for a safe arrival, he promises that he’ll always continue to sail, and that he’ll never live on land. Seven mermaids hear Jurk’s plea, and they make sure that the storm passes.
Years go by. Jurk has the wind in his sails. Storms only rage when he enters the port for loading or unloading. As soon as he sails off, the sea is calm again. Jurk becomes more and more wealthy. But then he falls head over heels in love. He forgets about his promise to the sea and marries his sweetheart. On his wedding night, the mermaids take revenge. A massive tidal wave floods Jurk and his bride’s house, and drags him into the depths of the sea, where he is to remain forever.
Every year in May – the month of love – Jurk tries to break free from his prison and tries to return to his bride. But he’ll never succeed.
The story about Jurk Jensen originally came from the island of Texel, but it’s also told in other parts of the Wadden area. There’s a similar story from the island of Terschelling, where the main character is called Jouk Haan. A slightly altered version was recorded in the Deutsches Sagenbuch by Ludwig Bechstein in 1853, with the title Die sieben Meerminnen.
Sprookjes & Sagen van Terschelling, by Richard van der Veen & Irina Filtzer
Meerminnen en meermannen, by Bert Sliggers
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The revenge of the 7 mermaids is an intriguing fairytale about a broken promise: a wonderful and familiar topic. A promise may be sincere, and might have been made from the heart, but as time passes, arguments change, and strict parameters might seem guidelines instead.
The greatest challenge in making a film about this story are the leaps in time that needed to fit into this 3-minute film. The drawings and music are quite straightforward, but the sounds and colours are typical for the Wadden area. The colour palette was assembled from photo’s that were made during a visit to the island of Schiermonnikoog, while doing research when we first started working on this project. We then also noticed that everything on and around the island is constantly moving and changing. This pleasant movement was also translated to music and to images. Everything you hear and feel is slightly unsteady.
The frame around the animation emphasizes the sense of memory, like an old photo or postcard. The frame also shows the layering of the drawings, like wings in a theatre. This contributes to the strength-depth effects, in between which the story unfolds.