Abstract

Impressionistic, nightmare-like images of a traveller in the Danube delta who is looking for ‘The Man in the House Behind the Swamp’, from a short story by the Dutch writer A. Alberts.

When the traveller sets anchor by an island manor that was once the summerhouse of the executed dictator Ceaucescu, reality and imagination coincide in this odd spot.

An unwanted guest disturbs the man. When it gets dark he disappears into the house. Through the slit in the doorway he is spied upon. Finally he goes to table and the table turns out to be set for three persons. The invisible third person is the imaginary lover of the man. Loneliness and alcohol rule. As the delirium of the traveller reaches its culmination, the swamp takes over.

Director’s statement

The writer A. Alberts wrote in the foreword of a selection of his work that to avoid mistakes, he used for his short stories the most superb atlases, especially detailed maps. ‘For The Swamp it was not necessary,” he wrote, ‘because even now I still do not know where it takes place.’

For years I have wanted to make a film around this story, but I could not find the right location in Holland. One day I was invited to join scientists on their voyage on the Donau delta in Romania. With the short story on my mind I travelled through this desolated area, searching for the house in the film. The footage I made on this trip in Romania became the basis of the film, which I have combined with staged images that are related to the short story. The swamp, which is a border region between land and water, becomes the metaphor of the domain between illusion and reality.