With her documentary animation film The Outlander, Ani Antonova tells the tale of the long and arduous journey undertaken by Süleyman, Vienna´s first elephant. It was in the 16th century that the animal initially voyaged from Ceylon to Lisbon, before being sent on a month-long journey as a living royal gift to Vienna under Maximilian II.
Over 5,000 individually drawn images render the animal in relentless motion, sketching the strenuous path taken across the Alps by the adolescent Suleiman – named after the Osman Sultan and arch enemy of the Habsburg monarchy – in the company of its courtly retinue. Ani Antonova interweaves historical sources into her film, including images from the time of this extraordinary procession. The voice-over explains, "Wherever they arrived, people were excited to see them." It is accompanied by delicately precise tracings of portraits, frescoes and animated coin motifs that dissolve into one another and underline the widespread euphoria caused by the exotic creature whose taming was intended to represent the monarchy´s power. The Outlander is the sad migration story of a thick-skinned immigrant passed on from one ruling dynasty to another, as he involuntarily treks across Europe. With this 5-minute pencil drawn animation film Ani Antonova sensitively translates an excerpt of Europe´s past into a thoughtful reflection upon our contemporary world. (Jana Koch)
Translation: Eve Heller
In 16th Century the elephant Süleyman makes a long journey from Ceylon to Portugal, then walks the whole way from Lisbon to Vienna trough the Alps for five months. To be a living royal gift is not an easy job, where even death is not a peaceful end. (production note)