Mr Pilipenko And His Submarine

Mr Pilipenko And His Submarine


Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Mr. Pilipenko, a retired crane-operator, has an impossible dream – to build his own submersible craft (christened "Delfin" - dolphin) and explore underwater. It has taken him 20 years to get it ready, and I could list the challenges and obstacles facing him (he lives in the middle of nowwhere, has no real experience with marine technology, he has very little money – to put a small point on it), and the next sentence would doubtlessly be "But Mr. Pilipenko was unfazed."

His design is forged from the pages of thirty year old editions of Underwater Sportsmen magazine, coated in mice droppings. His pension is around £26 and it mostly goes on parts – replacement or otherwise – for the craft. There's an early scene where Pilipenko tries on his son's military cap – which reminds us comically of Das Boot. His wife has not approved, and it's clear that submersible construction has put a strain on their marriage, even when he begs for money for batteries. He's a cheery old coot, fond of bursting into song, who's simple minded and lofty goal drives the story onward, and gets homesick just as his quest to reach the sea is coming to a close. The quest's outcome, I shall not dare to reveal.

Copy picture

Aided immeasurably by a breezy, energetic Captain Pugwash-esque score, the film is a gentle, soothing 90 minutes, and doesn't ask much in the way of strict attention. It's only when he reaches the sea, that we truly realise the depth of his obsession. His wife reveals a photo album of the family as they've grown old together, and we see a much younger Pilipenko leaning against his submarine shell beaming with pride. It's an enjoyable little documentary, although the subject probably lends itself to a better short than feature film.

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006
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A wet-behind-the-ears sea captain and his obsession.

Director: Jan Hinriik Drevs, René Harder

Year: 2006

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Germany


EIFF 2006

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