Abstract

‘I don’t especially long to see America or Australia, but Africa – I can’t explain it myself – perhaps out of instinct, as a fly drawn to the flame,’ wrote Alexandrine Tinne in 1860. What inspired a rich young woman, part of high society in 19th century The Hague, to travel as if possessed, as a fly drawn to the flame, to Africa? What is that instinct?

Alexandrine Tinne (1835-1869) was someone who lived on the edge. She had the courage to choose for herself. After her mother and her staff died leaving her alone in Egypt, she decided never to return to The Hague. She would continue travelling. Her undertakings became more and more dangerous. She was warned of the risks she faced but no one could hold her back. Her instinct dominated!

The film ‘As a fly drawn to the flame’ is made from the perspective of one who stayed at home, and who, having read Alexandrine’s letters, envisions what has happened. Photography has dictated the form of the film: Alexandrine Tinne was one of the first women to make use of the new medium, and more importantly, it was during the time of her travels that the Orient was first photographed in order to show true images to those back home in Europe. It is a 21st century journey of discovery through the archives where the 19th century photos lie in storage. A film in which ‘the adventure’ in between the lines becomes visible.