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Batavia Revealed: Shipwreck Psycho

On a remote wind-swept desert island, a team of forensic scientists uncover a skeleton in a shallow grave. This horrific find is evidence to the bloodiest shipwreck story of all time.

In 1629, off the Western Australian coast, the Dutch ship, Batavia, was wrecked on a coral reef. It and its 360 crew and passengers were far from home and far from help. For the men, women and children who had survived the devastation of the shipwreck it was like crash landing on the moon. But little did they know that the shipwreck was the least of their worries, their nightmare was just beginning. A real-life Lord of the Flies scenario unfolded led by one man, the apothecary, Jeronmius Cornelisz. A cult-like leader who was all powerful, creating a world of anarchy and violence where power games, sexual slaves, hedonism and madness prevailed. Survivor turned against survivor and a reign of fear, violence and eventually death prevailed. Over 3 blood-soaked months, 115 men, women, children even babies, were brutally slaughtered.

What would prompt such indiscriminate murder is a question that has confounded experts for centuries.

While scientific investigators painstakingly pour over the bones of the victims to answer the question how they died, in Holland a serious crime investigator is trying to discover why they died. Digging deep into the mind of the murderer he wants to find out what triggered Cornelisz to become one of the most notorious figures of 17th century Holland. Retracing his early life, he discovers an unexpected backstory of privilege, education and fortune lost. The world he was part of was a Golden Age, a time when Dutch science, art and commerce was amongst the most acclaimed in the world. But it was also a time of rampant capitalism, mass migration, and widespread religious conflict.

Through expert interviews and access to key historical documents, a profile of a man emerges; calculating, controlling and charismatic.

Shipwreck Psycho, shines a light on a disturbing event, when a civilisation was hijacked by a psychopath, turning it upside down and drawing on the darkest and most depraved side of humanity for his own selfish ends.

Broadcaster SBS, UKTV
Distributor DRG
Production Stills