It’s the story of an old Cuban fisherman, Santiago, who went eighty-four days without catching any fish at all. Nobody wanted to go out fishing with Santiago anymore, and even his young apprentice was forbidden by his parents to sail with the old man and was ordered to fish with more successful fishermen.
Santiago could have given up, an old man that he was.
But instead of giving up, he gambled everything – including his own life.
On the eighty-fifth day, Santiago took out to the sea, in his tiny boat, far into the Gulf. He set his lines and, by noon of the first day, a big fish took his bait. Being on his own, the old man was unable to pull the fish, which he thought was a marlin, and the fish ended up pulling the small boat, following the current to open sea. There was no way to stop him, unless the old man cut the line.
But Santiago didn’t give up. For two days and two nights, he bore the tension of the line with his own body. When the marlin finally gave up, the sharks arrived. The old man still found the strength to pull the fish towards him, and strapped it to the boat, as he wasn’t able to pull the animal on board.
Thus the fish was at the mercy of the sharks that ate from it until all that was left was the skeleton, tied to the boat. But it was an eighteen-feet-long skeleton. And when the old man returned to the beach, after fighting the bravest battle of his life, he was celebrated as a hero – the same man who only three days earlier had been despised by everyone.
‘The Old Man and The Sea’ won Hemingway the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953, and the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1954. It is an unforgettable lesson of how dignity and persistence rise above arrogance.
At a time when quite a few of us feel tired and barely see a reason not to give up, in the face of an arrogance that starts to become unbearable, I think we could draw some strength from the example of Santiago. At a time when seemingly nothing relevant has happened for much more than eighty-four days, I believe that there will come a day when we will find the necessary strength to take out into the sea of power that seems to be retaining that fish that we so desperately seek: Justice.
And just like Santiago – who reminds me of another intrepid man who, despite not being nearly as old as the Cuban fisherman, is not one for giving up in the face of adversity either – I believe that we will win our battle, a battle that we do not fight for ourselves, but for a little girl whose memory deserves to be honoured.
* Dedicated to my friend Joana, and to Dr Gonçalo Amaral.
Added by JM - thank you Astro
«The Old Man and the Sea» is a painted-on-glass-animated (pastel oil paintings on glass) short film directed by outstanding Russian animator Aleksandr Petrov based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Hemingway. A veritable masterpiece who won many awards, including the Oscar Academy Award for Animated Short Film in 1999. Work on the film took place in Montreal over a period of two and a half years and was funded by an assortment of Canadian, Russian and Japanese companies. French and English-language soundtracks to the film were released concurrently. It was the first animated film to be released in IMAX. Enjoy.