Cena#1: Theo Jansen (The Netherlands)

A BOY’S DREAM, byr Cinta Forger and Walther Grotenhuis

 “I am creating a new piece of nature, adding a new species”. “It has taken God ages to accomplish his evolution. I don’t have that span of time.”

 Playful and elegant beach animals walk along Dutch seaside. Their master, Theo Jansen, wants to make new life that will outlive his own lifespan. Only plastic tubes, tiewraps and sails are allowed. Electronical devices banned. As an explorer, he tries to understand the creation. His “strandbeasts” are part of a dream that is meant to conquer the world. Is this self-appointed God pursuing an impossible fairytale? In addition, is he able to convince the world to dream along with him? For 25 Years on end, Theo Jansen has been working day and night to make his dream come true.His challenge: creating beach creatures that will operate independent of their creator. The fact that his beach animals yet can’t live without him is disconcerting, as is his own mortality.

A ‘Boy’s Dream’ is a documentary showing how ambition, enthusiasm and passion results in the creation of art. And makes us realize how the fantasy of one man can create a completely new world in its own.  The film is also a portrait of the master at work, creating great feats of technology: from mini-strandbeesten to insane-looking colossuses that wouldn’t be out of place in a sci-fi film.The often huge beach animals patrol the coastline, accompanied by the creaking sound of their PVC bones and joints. Like animals bared to the bone. Magical, mythical beings powered by sails capturing the wind or air pressure from plastic bottles.The camera is with him during his travels to Japan and the United States, witnessing Theo’s hope that his creations will not only garner public recognition, but will also attract the interest of museum curators. In the meantime, Jansen always speaks animatedly about the evolution of his creations and, sometimes, the fragile balance between his work and his private life.

Theo Jansen is a dutch visual artist, studied science at the University of Delft. As an artist he spent the first seven years of his career painting, after which he decided to strike out on a new course by making a real flying saucer.  It flew over Delft in 1980 to the great consternation of the local population and police.  Since then he has been trying to create a new type of nature.  To this end he doesn’t use pollen or seeds but yellow plastic tubes. In his laboratory on a windy roadside on the outskirts of Delft he has continued his work on this pioneering branch of fauna, making skeletons which are able to walk on the wind.  Eventually he wants to put these animals out in herds on the beaches to live their own lives.  Theo Jansen has been a regular a columnist for the Volkskrant for 22 years. He has had articles about his work published in The New Yorker, The New Scientist, Wired and Popular Science.  His exhibition in Oita Japan  (2011) drew 146,000 visitors.  He has written three books about technical art and evolution and several television performances have inspired thousands of people to go to the beach to see him working there.


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

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