The Hypnotic Swedish Dance Film 'Sea Without Shore'

Danielle Wood

A poignant story, Sea Without Shore follows the love between two females and takes place deep in the forest of Sweden in the 19th century. Their relationship is cut painfully short, and the surviving lover retreats to the peace of the forest. Inspired by 16th and 19th century poetry, this film is hypnotic.
Sea Without Shore is set in a forest deep in the heart of Sweden in the 19th century, where two females find themselves engrossed in an obsessive love story. When their relationship is abruptly cut short, the bereaved lover is left in a disorientated state. Her desperation and ravaged loss is demonstrated through intense choreography, visuals, and sound design which speak directly to your senses.
The film is unique in many ways, which is thanks in part to its two directors. Co-director of the film, Andre Semenza, is the founder of independent film production company Maverick Motions Ltd. along with co-director Fernanda Lippi, the co-founder of physical theatre company Zikzira. Fernanda Lippi is a choreographer who has curated a vast amount of work for film and stage.

The professional duo’s scope of work demonstrates a tremendous physical display of story-telling, which has reached global stance with work exhibited at international film festivals and art house venues. They are also the artists behind the highly successful titles Ashes of God and Merging of Dance and Cinema: The Process.
Their latest film is an extreme tale of love and loss — the perks of discovering love and the agonizing feeling of losing it. The film’s poetic sentiment begins with a relaxed scene; establishing the strong bond between the two female lovers, and the length at which each one adores the other. The idea of twinned souls in an isolated world frequently arises on screen in the form of intertwined bodies.

Whether they are plaiting each other’s hair or floating in the sea together, their bodies blend to give the notion of two becoming one. When the lovers are together, scenes flow with a breath of fresh air. Everything feels possible. From the music score to the picturesque setting of the grandiose forest, the viewer feels delicate.

Dramatic changes occur when the love disintegrates unexpectedly. This becomes very apparent by the bright colors of each scene altering to dismal ones. Heaviness washes over the viewer as you witness the bereaved lovers’ physicality dissolving. Panic and panting through choreography fill the sombre scenes portraying the lady in lace’s hostility, derived from her loneliness. One instantly gauges her incapability of surviving without her lover. The sea does not exist without a shoreline. The lady in lace does not exist without the lady in the black dress.
The choreography speaks loudly as a substitute for the film’s dialogue. Sharp movements suggest the lady in lace’s agitation for her sudden circumstance. Despite the absence of dialogue, the conscious flow of narration is featured through words by 16th century poet Katherine Phillips and 19th century fin-de- siecle poets Renee Viven and Algernon Charles Swinburne.

The poignant music score swiftly transcends you from one scene to another; adding emotion and dramatic climaxes. The original music for Sea Without Shore was created by composer The Halfer Trio (aka Andrew McKenzie.) The choice of sound heightens each chapter of the film, and as the story evolves the music increases in anticipation whilst awaiting the lady in lace’s resurrection or demise.
The forest backdrop stands as a character in itself throughout the film– mysterious and daunting in stature, while the lady in lace gradually loses herself. As the lost lover pilgrims through the forest, falling in and out of consciousness, the mood of the film drops. The antiquated home where the lady in lace hibernates after losing the love of her life gives the polar opposite feeling of what a home should be. If there was ever a fable about love, Sea Without Shore is it. Viewers are taken on a powerful and leading journey through the depths of a passionate, rhythmical romance.
Screenings of Sea Without Shore featured a Q&A with sound editor Glenn Freemantle and the film’s co-directors. The screening tour began with the world premiere at Glasgow Film Festival 28th of February, and concluded at London’s The Whitechapel Gallery 28th May.

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