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ZDF Enterprises' Magellan docu special marks the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the globe

Mainz,  9 April 2020

Entitled “Magellan — Circumnavigating the World“, ZDF Enterprises is offering a 50-minute special from documentary think tank Terra X to mark this major anniversary.

500 years ago, the Portuguese captain Ferdinand Magellan and his men set sail on behalf of the Spanish crown on one of the greatest seafaring adventures in history. At the time, their journey around the world was comparable in importance to space travel in the 20th century. For the first time it was possible to see the true size of our planet. The original goal of the expedition was completely different.

The 15th and 16th centuries were an era of tremendous changes. These had dramatic consequences affecting all areas of life. Luther reformed the church, Copernicus pushed man out of his apparently God-given place at the centre of the universe, and European seafarers painted a completely new picture of the earth. Against this background, the film tells the story of Ferdinand Magellan. The real reason for his legendary expedition was the incredibly valuable treasures of the Spice Islands in the Indian Ocean, in what is now Indonesia. In the 16th century, cloves and nutmeg were as valuable as gold. Magellan promised Emperor Charles V a shorter route to what was then the most lucrative place on earth.

The film by Hannes Schuler, edited by Georg Graffe, follows in the footsteps of the expedition around the world, to Indonesia, Patagonia and Spain. In elaborate re-enactments on the sea-worthy replica of the legendary ship "Victoria", viewers experience the trials and tribulations of the crew up close, gain detailed insights into the last dramatic days of the expedition and learn from the example of a fascinating shipbuilding project how the people in 1500 managed to build sailing ships that were able to travel over 60,000 miles.

“Magellan — Circumnavigating the World“, however, also tells the story of the "actual" circumnavigator, the Basque sailor Sebastian Elcano, who was wrongly forgotten, who brought home the rest of the fleet and crew after Magellan's death on the Spice Islands.On the other hand, the story is not only told from a Eurocentric perspective, but also discusses the impact of colonisation on local people - be it on Tierra del Fuego or in today's Indonesia - with local interviewees.


About ZDF Enterprises
ZDF Enterprises was founded in the year 1993 as a 100 % private subsidiary of ZDF, one of the biggest and most renowned television broadcasters in Europe. On behalf of ZDF, ZDF Enterprises is responsible for worldwide program sales, the implementation of international co-productions, license purchasing for quality programs, marketing online rights and the merchandising of strong ZDF program brands. During the course of the process of development and diversification to date, it has been possible to incorporate a large number of business activities within the television and media industry within the ZDF Enterprises Group. Consequently, today ZDF Enterprises can offer a comprehensive, full-service offer that covers every step in the process of creation and utilisation of successful TV productions, from material development in all genres to production and then on to the marketing of television licenses, merchandising and online rights.

Contact ZDF Enterprises
Christine Denilauler (Vice President Marketing and Corporate Communications), ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1, 55127 Mainz/Germany, phone +49 6131-9911130, fax: +49 6131-9912130, e-mail:,


Christine Denilauler

Christine Denilauler

Vice President Marketing and Corporate Communications

+49 (0) 6131 / 991–1130
+49 (0) 6131 / 991–2130
ZDF Enterprises GmbH
Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1
55127 Mainz | Germany