De Zee die denkt

The Netherlands


Incredible optical Illusions in a story in a story in a story helps the surprised viewer finally to find out that he has been watching himself all along.

THE SEA THAT THINKS is a surprising film about itself. A film overflowing with twists and turns and new angles. It focuses on Bart, a scriptwriter who is writing the script for this film. In the film, Bart himself plays the scriptwriter writing the script of THE SEA THAT THINKS. He types what he does and he does what he types.

In his film, he finds the answer to the urgent question: How do we find happiness? He uses stunning examples to show us that our world is only to be found in our consciousness. What is real and what is illusion? Do we believe In our dream world while we dream? Do we believe in the reality of film while we see it? And why? His combination of pictures and text has a hypnotic effect on the viewer. It provides an exciting, dislocating and humorous adventure.
Later it also becomes apparent that the film is not about this tormented scriptwriter at all. In a game filled with optical illusions and continually changing points of view, the surprised viewers gradually find out they are looking at themselves: How do I observe? What do I assume to be true? What do I think I see? What do I think I am? The viewer turns out to bear a striking similarity to the Sea that thinks ifs a Tree.

Director's Statement

I am very interested in illusions we all believe in. And in order to make you really see how these illusions fool you and me every day, I decided to make a film. As illusions become apparent only when you see through them, this film is full of experiences, experiences YOU will have while watching the film. In fact, you will find out that you are watching yourself. I will not and cannot tell the story here on paper, because then I would destroy your experiences. And besides, if I could tell it, I would have written a book; much easier and cheaper.

In film we have this strange tendency of believing what we see. And there is also this strong desire to identify with actors on the screen. In THE SEA THAT THINKS it becomes apparent that these two mechanisms play a very great role in our daily life, outside the cinema. It will become completely clear that we do not actually see, but that we TRINK we see. And that is all right, but as we also started thinking about what we ARE, we created one big trap for ourselves. We turned ourselves into a ping-pong ball getting hit back and forth by two bats; one bat is called fear and the other bat desire.

The film will show you that a lot of things seen from one point of view look very realistic (like dreams while dreaming), but from another, slightly different point of view (wakening up) turn out to be something completely else.
So this film is about really important issues, about calm, peace, Buddhism, about how to become happy in life. To my surprise and delight it turned out to be a funny film with a deep impact; a film that might change your life. I've already got hundreds, maybe a thousand of e-mails from people all around the world who wrote beautiful things like: "I transformed my life completely thanks to your film." The film is neither an acted movie nor a documentary; it's something in between. To me it's more of an acted film about optical and mental illusions. Just go and see and decide for yourself if your life changed after seeing this film.

Director's Biography

Born in Amsterdam in 1957, Gert de Graaff studied aeronautical engineering from 1976 to 1981. He graduated cum laude (with distinction) and studied directing, cinematography and editing at the Dutch Film and Television School from 1982-87. Again, he graduated also cum laude (with distinction).

Gert then worked as an editor for the Dutch broadcaster NOB in Hilversum and has been lecturing in film history and editing at Hilversum Media College since 1993. He also worked as cameraman and editor on several films.
THE SEA THAT THINKS is his first feature film.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Gert de Graff

Written by: Gert de Graff

Produced by: René Huybrechtse, René Scholten

Cinematography: Gert de Graff

Editing: Gert de Graff, Jan Dop

Production Design: Vincent de Pater, Floris Vos

Main Cast: Bart Klever (screenwriter Bart Klever), Rick de Leeuw (actor Rick de Leeuw), Don Duyns (director Don Duyns)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Discovery of the Year - Fassbinder Award  2001