Jonas and the Sea by Marlies van der Wel is a spectacular animated short film about one man’s lifelong desire to live under the sea and become completely part of it.

Jonas is so determined to realize his dream that he dedicates his entire life to trying to build a machine that can transport him into the underwater world. He collects all kinds of objects he finds washed up on the beach and uses them to create bizarre vehicles. But all his inventions fail. As an old man now, Jonas must face the reality that there might not be enough time left to make his dream come true. Will it ever possible for him to live in the sea?

Film Time

Create a cinema-like atmosphere and immerse yourself in this visual beauty.

Story – Jonas and the Sea

We follow the epic tale of a man throughout his life and see him grow from a child full of joy and enthusiasm for the sea to a determined adult who has a clear vision: He wants to be part of the underwater world.

Jonas’ story is also about loneliness, as nobody understands his dream. Unlike him, the fishermen only consume what the sea can give them, and as the fishing industry grows, it uses more resources year by year. The fishermen don’t notice the beauty that surrounds them, and their dark clothes reflect only their colorless and dull world. Jonas instead is in complete harmony with nature and appreciates everything he finds beneath the waves.

Jonas and the Sea is a fascinating tale about determination and strong will. Every time one of his inventions goes wrong, Jonas learns from the failures and finds the strength to carry on. Alone.

Ernest Hemingway wrote in The Old Man and the Sea, “My big fish must be somewhere.” Van der Wel said that this is the message she wants people to take from her short film. “Find your big fish and go for it.” Never give up and follow your dreams. Having goals gives purpose to our lives, no matter whether we achieve those goals or not.

In the end, ironically, what Jonas accumulated during his lifetime will hold the key to building the fish-shaped vehicle that will finally allow him to live in peace with the sea. The objects that initially seemed to be waste, once recycled, got an entirely new meaning, and helped one man reach his dream.

Jonas and the Sea is also the director’s own epic story. Van der Wel spent five years creating this film, made three trips across the Netherlands, and combed the beach herself to find objects that inspired her to create her hand-drawn sketches. She came across all kinds of things: driftwood, shoes, rubber gloves, pieces of rope, bottles, and old rain barrels. It’s incredible to see that what we throw away can be such a great source of inspiration for creating a short.

The film is the result of a rich collage of pencil sketches, photographs taken during her trips, and digital animation. The attention to tiny details is so profound that we can easily perceive the immense work and love behind this project. The director drew and animated every part of the 150 shots herself. She didn’t know how to end the film until the last two weeks of production. Just like Jonas, everything she collected and made during the previous two years enabled her to find her “big fish” and create a happy ending.

A lifetime dedicated to realizing a dream and five years spent making a 12-minute film. I think there’s a lot to take away from these two inspirational stories that remind us: Achieving goals take time, dedication, and sacrifices. Now more than ever, we strongly need this reminder in our fast-paced and impatient world.

Study Time

There are so many lovely expressions related to the sea in English. Let’s learn some of them with the infographic below. Dive into it!

Jonas and the Sea Infographic Sea Idioms



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