Östersjöar – Baltic Seas
As part of the “Den kan vara allas” project we decided to remake our film from 1993 of Tomas Tranströmer’s long poem masterpiece, Östersjöar – Baltic Seas. The poem provides a poetical and metaphoric foundation for a broad exploration into the Swedish custom of allemansrätten.
The poem crosses all manner of borders: between nations, cultures, nature and people, past, present and future, life and death. It is the communication and meetings across borders which are at the heart of the poem the poet has described as, “geographical, historical, , political and introspective…a documentary poem.”
Remaking the film gave us the chance to dig deeper into the poem, find more authentic materials, lift up passages with fresh perspectives, bringing the imagery to an entirely new level, and all the while maintaining the same distance and character of the original experiment in 1993.
The film was financed by Longwalks Productions.
About the film (1993)
Östersjöar (1993) was a 30 minute film for television produced in 1993 by 2 PM poseia per musica, an American multimedia company working in the arts and social issues. The film was directed and filmed in the Stockholm archipelago by James Wine, music and sound design by Charlie Wine, film coloring and painting by Eva Jonasson Wine. The poem is voiced by the poet, Tomas Tranströmer, from a recording made in 1990 by Bokbandet of Stockholm.
“Östersjöar – En dikt av Tomas Tranströmer” premiered at the Nordic Poetry Festival, Cooper Union in New York, October 1993. It was broadcast in April 1994 on Swedish Television. Since then, the film was shown at poetry festivals and events in Sweden and around the world honoring Tomas Tranströmer, including Stockholm, Washington, DC (the Library of Congress), San Francisco, Paris, Dublin, Berlin, Munich, as well as at the Royal Swedish Library during Nobel week 2011 and the Nobel Museum 2012.
The project was an experiment in new media. Could a poem truly work as poetry in the mass medium of television? During the 1980’s identical twin brothers Jim and Charlie Wine had developed a new way of bringing poetry and music together, on stage and screen, guided by Leonard Bernstein. Key to their work was the notion that complementary arts had to work in service of the whole, to be less in order to create more. This they brought to the production of Östersjöar, less a film per se than a creative context for the poem as voice to be the continuous anchor for a wide audience experience, supporting rather than overwhelming the poem with image and sound.