Tom C. Brown‘s beautifully animated short Film, Christopher at Sea, is a nautical thriller that follows Christopher (James Potter) as he embarks on a transatlantic voyage on a cargo ship with the hopes of finding out what attracts so many men to sea, sending him on a journey filled with solitude, fantasy, and obsession.
The film premiered at the 2022 Venice Film Festival, and also screened as part of this year’s Sundance Film Festival Short Films Program.
Christopher at Sea is a visually stunning film about Christopher’s love story but it also tackles Christopher’s struggle with identity, discovering a truth he had been hiding from himself – all set as a dramatic visual opera set to the score of Schubert’s song cycle ‘Die schöne Müllerin’.
A quick read in Wikipedia states that in Schubert’s song cycle, the protagonist is a young journeyman who falls in love with the miller’s beautiful daughter (the “Müllerin” of the title). She is out of his reach as he is only a journeyman. He tries to impress her, but her response seems hesitant. This leads to a tragic ending of sorts.
In Tom’s words, “Christopher at Sea is a queer operatic thriller set to the emotive music of Schubert’s 1823 song cycle ‘Die schöne Müllerin’ alongside contemporary music from Casey Spooner, Walt Disco, and the film’s composers Brian Mcomber and Judith Berkson. Christopher’s journey, mirrored by the
narrative of Schubert’s journeying miller, bursts with emotion and fantasy as the melodrama of opera meets the reality of life on board a merchant vessel”.
From the story, animation and music, there is plenty to appreciate about Christopher at Sea. When seeing the film, you are transported to another world filled with anguish, lust, and love. It is a treat for the senses. There is no surprise that it won the Special Distinction Prize at the Bucheon International Animation Festival.
Tom C. Brown and I connected after the film’s premiere at Sundance. He graciously shared about his work, the inspiration for the film, and future projects.