The Patriarch Goes Ashore

The dark, heavily-built man as if he is literally carrying the weight of all he has seen on his shoulders is forced to leave his ship, when mine-wrecked in Drammen, Norway 1945. The animation is part of the documentary The Captain's Heart by Simon Bang on the life at sea of his maternal grandfather.

On D-Day this year the Danish wartime sailors in foreign service during World War II were acknowledged for the very first time. The British Queen, Elizabeth II, who hosted the service, was quoted for saying "About time!". The sailors at home did their bid too, leaving them grieving about what they had been through and concerned if they had done the right thing. Below are Simon's own words, with English translation in italics.

Simon Bang: Screendump from The Captain's Heart.
- click on the text to see the clip.

By Simon Bang

”Kaptajnens Hjerte” er en film om min morfar. Han opholdt sig på havet gennem 50 år. Som kaptajn på et fragtskib, sejlede han gennem to verdenskrige, havarier, storme, bombninger og miner, og gik først i land, da han på dramatisk vis, under Castros revolution, sejler den sidste last sukker ud af Cuba i 1959. Han var patriarken, der ofrede sig, men ikke beklagede sig over de omkostninger det havde, at stille sig til rådighed, ej heller med livet som indsats.

Han var med til at skabe velstand i de lande han sejlede fragt til, men velstanden blev til sidst hans fjende. Der var ikke længere brug for folk med hans egenskaber; stædighed, kæft, trit og retning. Velfærdssamfundet på godt og ondt, havde ikke længere brug for patriarker.

Simon Bang: Screendump from The Captain's Heart.
- look at that side of the ship, wrecked and yet with such a presence of power.
It is masterfully drawn.
To this we can add the animated detail of setting off into the fiord
by stemming the hand against the ship.

"The Captain's Heart" is a film about my grandfather. He was at sea for 50 years. As a captain of a cargo ship, he sailed through two world wars, he was bombed, he met with accidents, storms, and mines, and he finally went ashore in 1959 after having dramatically brought the last cargo of sugar out from Cuba during Castro's revolution. He was the patriarch, who sacrificed himself, but never complained about the cost of being at hand, risking his own life.

He helped create prosperity in the countries to which he brought goods, but prosperity eventually became his enemy. There was no longer any need for someone of his capacity; Stubbornness and demanding strict discipline of his men. For better or for worse, the welfare society no longer had any need for patriarchs. 

Simon Bang: Screendump from The Captain's Heart.

I filmen iscenesætter jeg, som animationer, de afgørende øjeblikke, der skabte og nedbrød min morfar. Gennem arkivklip, hans private dokumenter, interviews med hans to døtre og min årelange research, folder jeg historien ud. Filmen er stadig under færdiggørelse og den evige kamp om den sidste finansiering.

Herover et eksempel på en animationsscene: Min morfars skib er blevet minesprængt i Norge i januar 1945, og ligger brækket midtover i fjorden. Han må forlade skibet et øjeblik, for at meddele rederiet om ulykken. Jeg har tegnet både animationer og baggrunde.

Simon Bang: Screendump from The Captain's Heart.

Through animations I stage the decisive moments that created and destroyed my grandfather. I have unfolded his story by combining the animations with archival footage, his private documents, interviews with his two daughters, and an insight gained from years of research. The film is still in its finalizing stages and the eternal struggle of covering the expenses of it. 

Above is an example of an animated scene: My grandfather's ship has been struck by a mine in Norway in January 1945 and has broken in two in the fiord. He must leave the ship for a moment to inform the company of the accident. Animations and backgrounds are all by me.

The clip and stills are shown courtesy of Simon Bang and must not be reproduced without his permission.

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