Just my opinion… I think what we are doing to the land is far worse than what we’re doing to the sky. Joanna Kozuch’s animated tale, Once There Was a Sea, is the preventable tragic story of the once beautiful Arial Sea.
We open with a young woman arriving in the small village of Mo’ynoq, located alongside the salt desert in Uzbekistan. On her stop, she meets an older woman Svetlana, who once lived in this town with her husband. He worked at the port, and she worked at the cannery. We learn that this town was once a thriving fishing port known.
“The sea disappeared when the government began diverting the country’s water supply…”
Next, the young woman encounters a former sea captain who laments the gradual disappearance of the Arial Sea. The sea disappeared when the government began diverting the country’s water supply through an elaborate artificial irrigation system (best-laid plans). As a result, what was once his beautiful fishing vessel now stands as a lonely monument to Mo’ynoq’s memory.
As the tale goes on, the woman learns of attempts to repurpose the sea to grow cotton as the government experiments with new agricultural chemicals and then the most heartbreaking story of a secret Soviet base experimenting with biological and chemical weapons.
Once There Was a Sea is a heartbreaking tale of a once beautiful seaside. Joanna Kozuch’s animation is gorgeous, and her use of a wood-carved etching art style makes her story equally haunting. Kozuch herself visited Mo’ynoq several times to speak with the locals about their stories and the town’s history. Kozuch then gives us a glimpse into that region’s fate and ominous environmental future, and it’s heartbreaking.
"…heartbreaking tale of a once beautiful seaside."