Purple Sea is an hour of ruined footage, starting from the moment the director goes into the sea when the boat taking her from Syria to Europe sinks in the Mediterranean. It is profoundly distressing to watch.
There is no attempt to make a story out of this. It is brings you into the immediacy of the experience of going into the water, and waiting there to see if you drown or not.
The director narrates what was going through her head. She believes she is facing her own death, and thinks back over her memories, speaks to her husband who is already safely in Berlin.
Nothing is done in the film to present anything other than what actually is. No musical score, no stylistic tricks. Just what the camera saw when it went into the water, which is mostly the side of an orange life jacket, the shadow of a hand.
You feel like you are holding your breath the entire time. And you just want them rescued immediately. Because fuck politics and fuck what you think about any of this, they are going to die, get them out the sea.
And you just think, “Please let them be ok”. And you know that’s not going to happen. Not for everybody. You know how many drown every year. Just because you are seeing this now, here, doesn’t mean it was any different.
At the end it tells you that 42 people died. Was it the woman clinging to driftwood? All you see of her is her wedding ring. The woman in the butterfly top, which billows out next to you in the water? Was it the baby you can hear crying?
A haunting film.