'The Sea that thinks'
a film by Gert de Graaff, awarded with the Joris Ivens Award 2000 (award for best documentaries)

There must be an ocean for a wave to appear.


Brilliant movie! It should be experienced though, not described. I watched it three times and each time I was moved by other things. The watcher is being fooled, deceived, misled. I consider this the first 'advaitic' movie, if that expression would do. Words by Wolter Keers, Nisargadatta, Krishna Menon and Alexander Smit expressing the spiritual quest.

Is it about that? The spiritual seeking?

I think so.

What is so good or beautiful about it?

Because it is about me. And about you. About the Unspeakable. About shifting points of view.

Jesus! What do you mean?

All those wonderful words that are whispered in our ears during that eternal, apparently never ending horrible attractive spiritual search.

Mmm ...

Main character Bart Klever is sitting behind his computer writing a scenario and simultaneously it is the film we are watching. The same way as we always precisely see - if we look carefully enough - what we are doing or thinking all the time. By the way, Gert told me that he (as camera director) and Ruud Schuitemaker (as play director) provoked Bart to the utmost to be himself rather than playing a role; quite an achievement for an actor who is used to playing roles.

I can never see precisely or carefully what I am doing; only afterwards.

That can be experienced in this film. It is an experience. The images do have that impact on you. Bart makes himself comfortable and writes about himself as someone describing himself. He is typing sentences (about the sunlight falling on the wall behind him) such as: 'I am too busy writing to notice'.

Yeah, you consider that spiritual, don't you?

Yes, because how can he know that? I enjoy that a lot, since I recognize that timeless observing aspect about which they say that is who I am. And just like me he gets mad with all those beautiful lines in all those 'holy' books of all those people to whom IT happened while we, poor seekers, keep carrying those words around and treasuring them. Plenty of diaries full of remarkable words and sentences such as: 'And one will never reach it by reading books' and 'only the mind tells you that there is mind', but also: 'A heavy snowfall falls into the sea. What silence!' Light in the Darkness please.

Did Gert see 'the Light'?

How would I know. I didn't ask him. He was a seeker for 13 years and edited his film for 16 months, every night. According to me he dissolved in his passion: seeking himself.

13 years to find that he is a projector lamp?                                               

Yes, a projector lamp, a blank movie screen, a television - the availability for images to arise, and at the same time seeking the one that perceives and identifies with all those occurring images.

In fact too mad for words.

Really? Gert writes: 'And if I, as the maker of the film, can make it clear that many things we think we see do not seem to be so, maybe that will give an entrance to that other line in my movie: maybe many things that we think we are, are not correct either. Depending on our point of view. What am I? What do I think I am?'

Does it work?

For some it does. Bart runs continuously - and I can completely identify with that - as a madman up and down to the wall which he has covered with torn-out pages from the books by Wolter Keers or Nisargadatta circled in red those the quotes he wants to remember.

That really sounds familiar!

Yes, I even recognized some statements! I've also been lead by that idea: just remember that particular statement or those particular lines, and IT will happen. It's probably why translating is my profession. Translating those kinds of books, I always thought it would accelerate things. Ah ...

And that's what this movie is about?

Yes, and about what he calls 'witnessing'. He writes: 'I wish I could watch that 'open'. Witnessing is looking without labeling anything. It is a kind of being open to the silence.'

Yes, if that could be possible ...

At the end, when he is arguing with his girlfriend, all of us are 'witnessing'. This girlfriend Marga is never seen; while we are watching a table leg.


I will read you some lines from his website:
'Empty plain, mirror, the light in the projector; those are only symbols of the unspeakable. Because of the screen, we can project images; because of the projector light we can see images; because of that emptiness and silence in my head, thoughts and images can arise in me. And everything dissolves again; into nothing, and nothing makes any difference.'

Nice words.

Yes, at first he thinks he can find the answer in spirituality. Just like me, and many others. But when one really dives into that, one reads things like: there's no method. So he makes a note: forget everything.

He looks like me.

I told you. You too always think, just like me: 'If I just remember that one statement, I will be happy!'

Yeah, yeah ..., in order to know what you are, you have to know who you are not.

Exactly. Gert/Bart believes that too. Or believed. Something happens in leading man Bart. And that cannot be explained. Inwardly he makes a journey, a journey seen from another viewpoint, right from above. He throws all his luggage out of the car and eventually arrives at an empty beach. Gert writes: 'The space in which thoughts, like building structures, arise and disappear, again and again, while the space behind remains empty.'

Yes, because how can one let go of oneself?

If you want to let go of your 'I' you are a new 'I' that wants to let go of his 'I'.

It is never as you think it is.

Gert writes: 'Perhaps we could learn to look at things around us without anticipation, looking at ourselves and our inner world without labeling or images/imaginations...
In an interview he says: 'In fact they are the best bits, my best bits, from all kinds of spiritual ways. But instead of wanting to convert you, I show you a man who struggles with all those theoretical statements and really tries to do something with them.'

Words from the website:

Above all the movie is an experience. 'The Sea That Thinks' tells something through images. Words bring no experience. The word 'dog' does not bite.

You don't know what you are actually looking at.

Is it true what I see?

Is it true what I think?

My 'I' is a thought.

I make you experience how you look and think.

Anyway, it seems possible to take another viewpoint, to make a 180 degrees turn and look at the thoughts in your head. You might discover that it is possible to witness the silence between two thoughts.

In fact my story is very soothing. It does not matter what you do or think, since you cannot possibly influence or change that what you really are.

When we could see ourselves as the light in the projector, as the lamp that makes those thoughts and sense perceptions possible, than it is clear that we could not possibly be influenced by those objects. The light has no problems. However, we deeply believe in the images on our screen, just like in the cinema!

A small selection of the more than 380 (!) reactions on Gert's film:

Breathtaking and 100% advaita, even though it's not directly mentioned in the film (indirectly yes, by Nisargadatta's books). Much appreciation for your courage and the way you managed this. Is your 'Niek' in the movie actually Wolter Keers?

What is not I
I am in essence
All that passes
I am not.

I have enjoyed this morning and am very impressed. Visually and concerning content an impressive movie.

This is the good news: even after watching it 5 x TSTT continues telling. For me it is a great luxury to be able to move around in a medium, your movie, that is open, continuously showing things that make sense. Your friends receive strength from what you have done/made. Almost objectively I can say this.

It pleases me to notice that also people in the world of 'arts' are wondering 'who am I?' and expressing it in that way.

And I really mean it, to me it definitely is one of the most special and impressive movies I have seen so far!

Yesterday night I enjoyed the fascinating movie 'The Sea That Thinks'. My congratulations for the well-deserved Joris Ivens Award. I recognized many Advaita Vedanta ideas a.o. by Nisargadatta and I also heard Alexander Smit.
Prof. F.R.v.V.

I have read your website 'dezeediedenkt' with interest and will inform the readers of the magazine ('InZicht') that I assist in creating.

Gert should pray to the lord daily on his bare knees that he will never get enlightened, since then his filming will be past. (Did you ever hear of 1 Happy Men that can write a good Blues? See?!) The cat Amigo is probably the actor that is closest to enlightenment. And a natural.

It doesn't happen very often that I watch a movie that moves me so. Many feelings arose. The first sandy desert directly made me melancholic. That feeling came back many times. Beautiful music (compliments to your brother!). You are so good in creating beautiful images and making them into one!

Some practical information about the film 'The sea that thinks':

Information about releases in Holland, contact Ilona van Genderen Stort, A-Film Distribution, telephone Amsterdam +31 20 3445140; fax: +31 20 3445145.

The film will be released on video and (later) on DVD.

Please send your orders to: www.dezeediedenkt.nl

E-mail address Gert de Graaff: gravioli@hotmail.com

For Press reviews: visit 'reviews' on the website: www.dezeediedenkt.nl

Gert is 43. He is editing teacher at the Media Academy (NOB) and works part-time for the NOB. At this moment he is traveling around the world to be wherever his film (English subtitled) is shown (Berlin, Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and soon in Kiev, St Petersburg, Moscow and Charley Vary). Other cities will follow.

During the Filmfestival at Berlin it was possible to meet Gert after the viewing, which went on until very late. I asked Gert how people reacted towards him. He said that he was considered a Guru. 'Even though I kept telling that I am just like them; whatever I said, they simply saw what they wanted to see. Just like in the movie 'The Life of Brian', he was born on the same day as JC and was considered by others to be JC himself. He even gets crucified! It seems to be that way. I thought it was weird. A wise man/film brings you back to yourself and not to the messenger of all that beauty.'

[belle bruins]