Sinking Hy-Brasil

This is an image from the famous sinking scene from the movie “Erik the Viking” from 1989. the movie plot is built on the medieval saga of the explorer Erik the Red. In one part of the saga Erik and his comrades arrive at the mystical island Hy-Brasil (or simply Brasil) west of Ireland. But the movie combines this Irish myth with two other popular myths: the sinking of Atlantis and the peaceful Minoan culture in the Mediterranean Sea. In a comic climax, the inhabitants of Brasil cheerfully and confidently drown in the sea.

The scene also obviously quotes the very similar scene from the 1961 movie “Atlantis – The Lost Continent”, that can be found here.

Here is the full video excerpt:

Islands and Whales

In folktales from various cultures there are tales of sea animals so big, that they get mistaken for islands. In some stories, sailors land on them and spend time on “land” before realizing that they are actually on top of a living, breathing animal. These islands accordingly appear and disappear, rise and sink into the ocean frequently. In the Irish Legend of Saint Brendan, Brendan of Clonfert, a monch and fabled navigator, and his disciples land on a giant sea creature called Jasconius. “Because of its size, Brendan and his fellow voyagers mistake it for an island and land to make camp. They celebrate Easter on the sleeping giant’s back, but awaken it when they light their campfire. They race to their ship, and Brendan explains that the moving island is really Jasconius, who labors unsuccessfully to put his tail in its mouth.”

In mythology sea animals often trick humans into believing that they are on safe, solid ground. But equally often, they rescue people from floods and offer their bodies as rescue boats. See for example the tale about the fish Matsya here.