Das Silberne Segel (The Silver Sail)
Tobias Wiethoff, Zeiss Planetarium Bochum
Film review by Ubbo Grassmann, Stuttgart
Introduction: From the producer and animator behind “Cirque de la sphere” and “Star Rock Universe” (and much more) comes a new, narration-driven music show that tells the story of the protagonist Randolf and his search for the Silver Sail. Lasting 50 minutes, the show is comprised of music genres from rock/pop to Pirate Shanty varying in speed and including softer pieces.
The mythical music poem by Wolfram Eicke and Hans Niehaus was produced in the sound studio of Dieter Faber and Werner Becker. Nina Hagen, Annett Louisan, Stefan Gwildis, Joachim Witt, Naima and Rolf Zuckowski performed the songs. Uwe Ochsenknecht acts as narrator. The role of “Smutje” is sung with a twinkle in his eye – by TV chef Tim Mälzer.
The Plot of the show: An invisible narrator introduces the audience to the story and drives it forward through the narrative, which is interspersed with songs fitting the respective events. Randolf has lost everything in the course of the 30-year war. A wolf killed his father and he has nothing but a dream: He dreams of a silver sail. But to find this his only clue is a copper amulet with a partially legible “riddle”, which must be solved in order to find the sail. Therefore, he sets off, leaves behind his girlfriend, Lilly, and sets out on a search. A blacksmith’s tip leads him to the North Sea to the infamous pirate “Eisenfuß” (“Iron Foot”), who is also looking for the silver sail and who holds the second part of the riddle.
The story told here is an “adult” story that does not shy away from difficult themes such as war, loneliness, hatred and violence. But it is told in a way that never seems overly oppressive or menacing.
After the paths of Randolf and Eisenfuß cross, the pirate locks up our hero on his ship, the Claw. At least visually, the pirate ship also serves as a main character with large parts of the story take place on board. Randolf now must clean the ship and mend nets. He even witnesses the ship’s cook being walking the plank to feed the sharks, because he has taken advantage of the scarce rations. More and more of the riddle is being solved. The ship comes closer to finding the silver sails, when it is revealed that Randolf is not alone on board with the pirates. His girlfriend, Lilly, is also there along with a girl called Mara who has visionary skills. With Mara the visual style gets a much more psychedelic, colorful touch. The three are discovered by Eisenfuß and locked up again. Mara knows the secret of the silver sail, but of course, she won’t tell Eisenfuß. Eisenfuß recruits a mind reading medicine man with whose help the ship encounters the silver sail in the form of a large sea octopus. Now Randolf and Eisenfuß are up straight away and the silver sail is within their reach. An exciting climax unfolds. The (very beautiful) end is not to be revealed here, only this much: There is also a moral to the story.
Analysis: What works, what doesn’t? The show was produced for unidirectional seating, so that the most visually interesting events take place at about 40° in the “south” section of the planetarium dome. Nevertheless, there is something interesting to see across the entire dome for planetariums with concentric seating.
Technically the animation is, as expected, on a high level, especially when you consider that everything comes from one pen without a huge team. The flights through and over landscapes and water are excellently rendered. The pirate ship is well staged, the various lighting atmospheres and the animated water impress. The music is almost seamlessly woven into the story and of very high quality as well. Visually, the narrative moves more in the figurative than in the psychedelic (although there are passages to be found here, e.g. “Naima: Why am I Here”).
Summary: The Silver Sail maintains the high quality of Tobias Wiethoff’s productions in all respects even surpassing it in parts. The story unfolds with imagination and the visual staging is strong. The strong narration effectively infuses meaning into the song connection making a pleasing whole of the individual parts.
If you are looking for a current full length music show that suits your musical taste, then this show is highly recommended.
12th FullDome Festival, May 26, 2018