In the evening of the long summer holidays, my grandmother read to me, sitting next to my bed in a very old armchair. „Far out in the ocean“, she began, „where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower, and as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep“ and I placed my head against her knees, and soon fell to sleep, dreaming of a golden glittering sea and the little mermaid who left the ocean to search for a prince who in the end would forget her and would sail away on a boat with a princess in his arms.
But the sea, we see here has nothing to do with the sea from the daily reading hour, and the books with all its mysterious figures, the sea we see here, is an endless body of water and in its midst we see a man ( Robert Redford ) alone on his boat. For the duration of the film he will remain the only person in sight. He finds himself on the Indian Ocean between Indonesia and Madagascar and we hear the sea, a clear, very crystal sound and see how water is floating into his boat. A container punches a hole in the hull. The onboard electrical system does not work anymore. We see the shoes, swimming on the water, maybe made in the low-wage country Cambodia where the price per pair is 0,0001 Cent lower than in the high- wage country Bangladesh, and are reminded of a world far, far away from the sea, where women are shot down for demanding a wage at all for their work, but the sea takes the shoes too, before it takes the boat and the man. But before the sea does what the sea does, we see a man at work, repairing the leaked boat side, pump emptying the boat, trying to fix the electronic system. For a moment it seems as the sea could again become a story, beginning, with „Far out in the ocean“, was a boat named Virginia Jean. But this is not a story at all, its the sea we see and a man alone in the sea, lost in the sea, even while surviving a tropical storm in broken boat and entering a life raft. We see the man, who has no name, letting his boat go. We don’t see a man arguing neither with any god nor screaming at the sea. We see him reading maps where again we see the ocean, and reading in Celestial Navigation. He, the man does not see us, the audience. He sees the sea, as we do, too. He does not tell us anything. The man does not comfort us, he does not help us, he is alone with the sea, as we are with him till ‚All is lost‘.
At the end of my grandmother’s reading, the prince would marry another woman, not the mermaid. She like the man we see, remains silent before joining the daughters of the sea. The man we see has no history, his story remains the sea.
J. C. Chandor, USA, 2013