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Matinee: 'Coming From the Abyss' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

2 January 2021

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 286th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Coming From the Abyss.

This 8:20 video is narrated by Kurt Rasmussen who, on May 15 of last year, recovered consciousness after over six weeks of intensive care in a Danish hospital. Rasmussen, a bus driver, had contracted Covid-19. And lost his job.

The journalist Maria Dalhoff and photographer Casper Dalhoff followed Rasmussen's struggle to recover from the disease, producing a video that transcends the story to become something of a fable of our time. And a good omen.

It isn't easy to watch. We had to go through it more than once.

The first time we read the captions because our Danish is woefully lacking, as one says in polite company.

'You can't hope for a greater declaration of love.'

The second time, we focused on the images.

There are several layers to the black-and-white images. There are the stills, there is video and there is video of the Rasmussens looking at a slide show of the stills as Kurt reflects on what they depict.

Protocol at Aarhus University Hospital was quite different for the Rasmussens, who were able to be together, than it is here. That only contributes to the feeling this is a fable more than a story.

It shows what others must certainly feel but cannot do.

As his symptoms became more serious, Dorthe, his wife, told him she was sorry but she couldn't take care of him at home any more. He was too ill. So he was admitted to the hospital.

But she didn't leave his side. He lost consciousness, he was put on a ventilator, it looked bad. He remembers little of the battle. But Dorthe told him at one point she whispered in his ear, "Stay with me."

Her words pressed upon his heart. "You can't hope for a greater declaration of love," he says through his tears as he tells us about her devotion.

His treatment involved dialysis to reduce his temperature , which climbed over 106 degrees.

"A hug is what you need in intensive care," he says. But he could not be hugged.

It is a difficult story for him to tell, but as he watches the slides with Dorthe by his side, he navigates the big bus of the narrative around the tight corners of those events, so to speak.

He returned from the abyss. It's what we all hope for in 2021.


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