Iceland, Norway


On a cold night in March 1984, a few miles off the south coast of Iceland, a fishing boat sank with all its men. One of the crew miraculously managed to survive. After five hours in the ocean, the exhausted man washed ashore, only to find himself on a deadly, uninhabited lava field. Based on an astonishing true incident, THE DEEP is the tale of an ordinary man whose will to live made him both an inexplicable scientific phenomenon and a reluctant national hero. Being a sole survivor can be a burden as well as a blessing. Deciding to move on may be the hardest part.

Director's Statement

I was just a teenager when this actually happened. Like everyone else in our small country I felt for the people of the Westmann Islands who again had lost men at sea, but I was also fascinated by the sole survivor. They named him the seal-man, referring to his body fat, which they believed had kept him alive in the sea. The images of this unusual man stayed with me. Not your stereotypical hero, but still someone who had beat the odds. Over the years I sometimes thought of this guy and wondered about his five-hour swim in the North Atlantic Ocean and the determination and lust for life that must have pushed him through that night. Nearly 30 years later and after the economic meltdown, I felt an urge to tell this particular story. For a nation that had been riding high on a wave of a superiority complex and was fighting not to surrender to the opposite, I felt that it was important for us to get our heads straight, face who we really are, reflect on what we’re made of and remind ourselves of the heroes who endured the harsh conditions of the frigid seas in the far north for centuries and created the modern society we now enjoy. The Westmann Islands’ fishing community is one of many similar places around Iceland. In such small places every person makes a difference. When a group of men goes out to sea (or to war or to the mines in other cases), the ones who stay behind realise the danger that lurks behind the corner and silently hope that they will return safely. This survival story pays tribute to all those heroes who have died at sea.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur

Written by: Jón Atli Jónasson, Baltasar Kormákur

Produced by: Baltasar Kormákur, Agnes Johansen

Cinematography: Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson

Editing: Sverrir Kristjánsson, Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir

Production Design: Atli Geir Grétarsson

Costume Design: Helga I. Stefánsdóttir

Original Score: Ben Frost, Daníel Bjarnason

Sound: Kjartan Kjartansson, Ingvar Lundberg

Cast: Jóhann G. Jóhannsson, Stefán Hallur Stefánsson, Björn Thors, Thorbjorg H. Thorgilsdótir, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2013