A Boy's Dream

A portrait of Theo Jansen, who's trying to add a new species to nature with his remarkable 'beach animals'.

A Boy's Dream Constructed from plastic tubes, artist Theo Jansens' beautiful animal-like creations move independently, powered by the wind. For Theo, the creation of his mythical strandbeesten, or 'beach animals', is about much more than just art: "I am creating a new nature...a new species" he says. A Boy's Dream follows the artist as he reveals his remarkable new creations, delving into his troubled past and reflecting on his own philosophical anxieties.
For 25 years Theo Jansen has been working day and night to make his dream come true. His challenge: to create beach creatures out of recycled materials that will ultimately operate independently of their creator. "It has taken God ages to accomplish his evolution. I don't have that span of time." His own mortality, and the fact that his anthropomorphized 'beach animals' can't yet live without him, are disconcerting.

Theo carries out impressive tests every summer on the beach. His often huge constructions patrol the coastline, accompanied by the creaking sound of their PVC bones and joints. Like animals bared to the bone, these magical, mythical beings are powered by sails, capturing the wind or air pressure from plastic bottles. The fact that Theo struggles to let go of his creations, "to say goodbye is to die a little", is testament to his commitment to his work, and the life they are imbued with.

Theo travels to Japan and the United States to share his work. He tells a group of Japanese schoolchildren "to make something yourself from your environment, and maybe you can stay a child just like me." In America, Theo speaks to art enthusiasts about his creations as if they were autonomous. It may be Jansen's child-like innocence that fuels his belief in the independent existence of his plastic beasts. But It becomes apparent that Theo's drive to create the work is from a desire to reconcile himself with the inevitability of his own death. His dream is that his non-biodegradable 'strandbeests' will live on after him in a state of eternal and perpetual motion, and hopefully keep something of him within them.

Is this self-appointed God pursuing an impossible fairy tale? And will he be able to convince the world to dream along with him?

Olympic Films

The Producers

Cinta Forger and Walther Grotenhuis have been working for almost 40 years as documentary makers for Dutch Public TV. It is their ambition to get to know extraordinary worlds and introducing these to the public. They have filmed on every continent and their work has been selected for dozens of festivals. They were awarded a Golden Panda in China, nominated for the Golden Rose at IDFA, and have had their work shown in more than 50 countries.

Making The Film

Five years ago we saw for the first time a beach creature running along the Dutch coast. Immediately we got under the spell of these beautiful, artfully made animals with their crunching skeletons. We wanted to know more about the man who has been pursuing his dream for more than 25 years on end in all weathers, making a new beach creature every year.

The making of 'A Boy's Dream' was inspiring as the documentary zoomed in to a defiant project, aiming at making the impossible possible through sheer fantasy.

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