Into the Deep
In the summer of 2016, Emma Sullivan, an Australian filmmaker, began documenting the life and work of Danish inventor Peter Madsen. Madsen was famous in Denmark for building a home-made, crowd-funded submarine and he was now attempting to become the world’s first amateur astronaut by constructing his own space rocket. An apparently charismatic and playful man, Madsen attracted engineering and science students to his workshop in Copenhagen, who were captivated by his energy and ambitions.
A year into her project, Sullivan filmed Madsen on August 10th 2017 as he prepared to take a Swedish journalist, Kim Wall, on a trip in his submarine. On that voyage, Madsen brutally murdered the journalist and disposed of her remains overboard. Notwithstanding its savagery, this was a carefully planned, premeditated crime and some of Madsen’s preparations had been unwittingly recorded by Sullivan’s camera.
Using a year’s worth of observational footage, her film provides an unprecedented portrait of an apparently charming eccentric who turns into a murderer before our very eyes. More poignantly, she shows us the innocent enthusiasm of the amateur space mission and then tracks the impact of the crime on Madsen’s supporters as they slowly grasp the true nature of the man they called a friend and mentor.
Denial and disbelief turn to shock and disgust as they question the trust they placed in Madsen, reinterpret seemingly innocuous events they witnessed and reckon with their own feelings of shame and complicity in the terrible events onboard the submarine that summer night in Copenhagen. For them, it is a bitter journey from innocence to experience as they prepare to face Madsen in court and provide the damning testimony that secures his conviction.
As Into The Deep reveals, some of the rushes would become crucial for the prosecution in the eventual trial of Madsen in March 2018. He was ultimately found guilty, and handed a sentence of life imprisonment.
A work-in-progress version of Into The Deep premiered at Sundance film festival in 2020. Following that screening, two participants were removed from the film and another participant “Sara” appears in the film digitally disguised at her request. The filmmakers used cutting edge technology which provides a lifelike disguise but offers a more authentic viewing experience to the audience than a blur.
Director: Emma Sullivan
Producer: Mette Heide, Roslyn Walker
Executive Producer: James Marsh
Editors: Joe Beshenkovsky, Anders Refn
Additional Editors: Jakob Juul Toldam, Christoph Nagel, Lars Juul
DoP: Henrik Bohn Ipsen, Lars Skree
Music by: Dickon Hinchliff
Sound designer: Henrik ‘Gugge’ Garnov
VFX: Ryan Laney
Colorgrade: Lasse Marcussen, Cameo
Year of production: 2020
Available on Netflix from 30th of September 2022