For the nineteenth century, the world beneath the sea played much the same role that "outer space" has played for the twentieth. Proteus uses the undersea world as the locus for a meditation on the troubled intersection of scientific and artistic vision. The one-hour film is based almost entirely on the images of nineteenth century painters, graphic artists, photographers and scientific illustrators, photographed from rare materials in European and American collections and brought to life through innovative animation. The central figure of the film is biologist and artist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919). Through his discoveries beneath the sea, Haeckel would eventually reconcile these dualities, bringing science and art together in a unitary, almost mystical vision. His work would profoundly influence not only biology but also movements, thinkers and authors as disparate as Art Nouveau and Surrealism, Sigmund Freud and D.H. Lawrence, Vladimir Lenin and Thomas Edison. Around Haeckel's story, Proteus weaves a tapestry of poetry and myth, biology and oceanography, scientific history and spiritual biography.
**2004 Sundance Film Festival, Santa Barbara Film Festival**
"Man's dream of uniting nature and art forms the subject of Proteus, a stimulating scientific inquiry that may cause audiences to look at (and think about) the world around them in dramatically different terms." -- Variety