on 19 May 2007
Having read the excellent Tomalin/Hall book of this story, and then the reviews here at Amazon, it was apparent there'd be little else added to a tale that has been in the making for nearly thirty years. True enough there wasn't, but only factually.
Nevertheless, I still thoroughly enjoyed this documentary film. Having watched the interviews with Crowhurst's wife and one of his sons, I couldn't help but feel truly sorry for his family and Crowhurst himself, something that the book didn't really manage for me (even though the book is superb). The footage of the disastrous start to Crowhurst's race out of Teignmouth made me laugh out loud, which is pretty odd seeing as I knew how this tragic tale ended.
After reading the book I felt Crowhurst was just a chancer/Mittyesque character that took a big gamble and lost in the ultimate way. After the film, I still felt some of this this but the difference was I ended up liking Donald Crowhurst. Of course, the film-makers may have been more sympathetic to get the co-operation from the family but I like to think this is an accurate representation of the tale as it was. At the end, I felt genuinely moved by what I'd just seen.
If you don't have the time or inclination to wade through 275 pages of the book, then rent or buy this little treasure. It may be lacking the finer detail of the book but it added something important; the human side to all this and the effect that a tormented mans dream had on everyone around him. Overall it's an important story that should be heard. The film describes the story simply, is filmed nicely, has crucial interviews with many of the main players and therefore I recommend it highly.
on 22 September 2008
I'm no film buff nor literary critic so excuse this amateur appraisal but, for me, Deep Water was one of those films you'll remember for the rest of your life. It was painfully tagic, with no winners, only pain and heartache for all concerned. Very well put together, great contributions from fellow sailors, journalists and family with wonderful footage from the time. It's now over a year since I last saw it and it still haunts me. What different times yachtsmen live in today but it doesn't alter the fact that we are all just human, all equally fallible. Great film.
on 5 November 2007
This is a beautiful and completely compelling film; the story of the last voyage of Donald Crowhurst, a completely batty amateur of the finest British tradition, a man with a young family and a struggling business who becomes inexplicably fixated on an utterly forlorn quest to win the 1968 Sunday Times solo, non-stop round-the-world-yacht race.
Archive footage reveals that from the earliest stage Crowhurst, a tubby, cardigan-wearing thirty-seven-year-old inventor, had no idea what he was taking on (but at least he was dressed for it: in a tie and slacks as he set off on the race!), what he was doing, or how his plan had a hope of success, yet bizarrely he was financed, filmed, represented by people who ought to have known better, and most strangely of all allowed, even out of his garden shed, by his wife, a woman revealed by the documentary to be otherwise a sober, sensible, reflective and thoughful woman. One of many tragedies catalogued was that no-one had the wherewithal or gumption to tell this poor chap - in no sense one of life's winners, and certainly not the sort to be up for a round-the-world solo yacht journey - not to be such a blazing fool.
Yetm, like a Shakespearian tragedy, plot developments thereafter are piled inevitably on, compelling the poor man on when even he had twigged it was sheer madness: the oppressive terms of his financing, residual pride, his own ill-considered decisions to misreport his positions, and in the final strait the sheer bad luck to have a couple of his competitors unexpectedly sink or go postal on him when he needed them simply to complete the course ahead of him and allow him to finish in quiet, plucky British ignominy. Were it not for any of these, Donald Crowhurst might still have his unspectacular life, and still be running a failing electronics business, to this day.
But as it is, events conspired to a different course, and Crowhurst's elegaic and articulate descent into the abyss is capitvatingly rendered in this film, from logs, recordings and films he made en route, and in which he is portrayed without apparent exaggeration as a tragic hero, doomed by the course of this actions and the irresistable currents of human and physical nature, to a sad end.
This is an excellent, feature-length documentary about the Round The World yacht race of the late 1960s.
It's constructed from actual footage of the journeys, plus interviews of those who took part and their families, plus some very clever modern filming which neatly bridges the gaps.
The story is a sad one, about Donald Crowhurst, one of the competitors.
He was one of only nine competitors to enter the race. He viewed it very much as a way to make his fortune, a boy's own adventure that would set him up for life.
Instead it destroyed him, and this film explains how and why.
It's a very clever documentary which certainly influences the viewer's feelings -- you start by being incredulous that someone with so little experience even entered this appalling competition, and end up wishing that history could have played out differently.
It gives great insights into the trials and attractions of solo yachting, the savagery of the seas, and the accomplishment of the race winner.
But this is a film for mature appreciation.
It's not a splash-and-dash crowd pleaser.
And it doesn't end well, unlike the producers' previous effort of Touching the Void.
So Deep Water is probably not one to watch if you're in a sad mood, but if you enjoyed Touching the Void then you may well find it compelling viewing.
on 19 January 2008
"Nowdays...you can pinpoint your position to a few feet on any portion of the globe. In the 60's that just wasn't the case. Don Crowhurst sailed over the horizon and effectively into oblivion." --- Deep Water
GPS - open any map and we can know exactly where we are on the globe today. For those of us who were learning to navigate land and sea in the 1960's, it just was not so. Few amateurs knew how to use a sextant; nor could the average person afford one. For the most part, on any given day we knew where we were relative to other landmarks around us. But the thought that you could know precisely to the foot where you were eluded all but the most sophisticated. And the exact same was true for how the majority of people defined their social and personal identity as well...and I am not speaking metaphorically, either.
Today my children take their GPS for granted. The world is mapped...every square inch. Today we know where we are not in relation to something else, but just in relation to where we are...which defines to us where everything else is. And beyond the physical description of where we are, today my children know and can articulate the manner in which their culture, and their society, and their family shapes them. But it was not so in the 1960's...it was not so. When Donald Crowhurst sailed over the horizon, he indeed sailed not only into a geographical oblivion, he also sailed off the social map in a very real way. And as we bid him farewell, we who grew up back then were as certain of this geographically, as we were socially.
It's interesting that today Western culture advocates venturing over social horizons so glibly. The assumption is that in so doing, self-disclosure awaits. But without the proper social navigational tools that tie us to someone, somewhere - not to everywhere, not just anywhere, and not to just anyone - are we just cut adrift like sailors on an ill-constructed ship without a way to turn back, as was Mr. Crowhurst? ...or in reacting to the lack of social sophistication of the past, are we throwing off all social ties, leaving our loved ones to muck alone through the consequences of the subtle, modern ways we promote social isolation in our own time? (Certainly, the social grounding that the Commonwealth offered in the 1960's served neither Crowhurst, nor any that were adversely affected by his desires or actions - DEEP WATER certainly does not advocate a return to it.) These were simply the questions that were being opened in me as I watched DEEP WATER...as I watched these people's faces then, and now.
Looking back on the events on which this movie is based it's easy to see that most of the people interviewed have matured to realize today, as we did not realize then, that it really wouldn't have mattered what would have socially befallen Mr. Crowhurst had he returned home and been exposed. No. The real tragedy is that we as a culture had put something in his way that made it more than difficult to simply return to what is now a beautiful, beautiful family and true friends, who just wanted him to come home...and it's evident that they still do. Blessings on them.
on 28 June 2008
AS WITH SOME PREVIOUS REVIEWS, I TOO HAD,HAD LITTLE SYMPATHY FOR CROWHURST WHEN READING VARIOUS BOOKS COVERING THE 'GOLDEN GLOBE RACE' AND THE FATE OF DONALD CROWHURST, BUT SOMEHOW BY SEEING THE ARCHIVE FOOTAGE AND THE INTERVIEWS OF HIS FAMILY AND PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT OF ACTUALLY GETTING CROWHURST TO THE START LINE, THEN YOU REALLY START TO FEEL FOR CROWHURST AS A PERSON. TO ACTUALLY SEE THE TORMENT AND DOUBT IN HIS FACE AND VOICE BEFORE SETTING OUT, I STARTED TO ASK MYSELF, WHY DID NOT SOMEONE STOP HIM.I FOUND THE DVD THOROUGHLY ABSORBING,SAD AND BY THE TIME CROWHURST IS LOSING HIS MIND TOWARDS THE END YOU JUST WISHED SOMEONE COULD HAVE SAID "YOU CAN COME HOME DONALD, IT DOES NOT MATTER!"
on 18 May 2010
I'd had this lying around for over a year, thinking I'd watch it sometime but never really getting around to it. I knew nothing of the story, only that it had been well received at various festivals.
One night I put it on thinking I'd watch it while doing something else, and within ten minutes I was transfixed. It's one of those stories that sucks you in and keeps you watching until the end - and more than that, it changes the way you look at things and challenges your pre-conceptions, as the best documentaries always do.
You might think this is just a documentary about a disastrous boat race. But it really isn't. The race is merely the backdrop against which the human dramas are played out. It's the story of the lengths people will go to prove something to themselves, the world or the ghosts of their past. The transformations of the tragic protagonist, Donald Crowhurst, or the philosopher-poet Moitessier are in turns fascinating and shocking.
When you simply look at Crowhursts actions on paper, it's easy to dismiss him as a charlatan and a fool. So it's a credit to the documentary makers that they force the viewer to look deeper into the story, and in turn look at ourselves and perhaps think more deeply about the weaknesses that we all share as human beings.
on 6 January 2008
This is a must-see documentary film for anyone interested in the sea, exploration and adventure. It is a fascinating account of a man caught between a rock and a hard place (if he continued the voyage in his incomplete, leaking boat he would surely perish; if he gave up the race and returned he would lose his home, his business - everything). That left him with the third option... to pretend to be winning the race.
After months at sea with only his own company, the writings in his log book become increasingly more disjointed and bizarre, then just a couple of weeks before he is due home, his boat is found abandoned in a Marie Celeste like setting. His body is never found.
It would be a good story if it was fiction as it is not without its twists and bitter ironies, but the fact that it was true makes it all the more riveting.
on 25 October 2009
A fantastic documentary film I have read all the books bar Nigel Tetley`s and the film does not disappoint if you have an interest in the Golden Globe or Sailing in general this film will suck you in and take you on a journey make your own mind up on Donald but you cannot take away the impact he made on others ,still proud son loving wife and the most moving commentary/speech from his friend Ron you can watch this time and time again..Enjoy
Comprehensive documentary recounting the story of amateur yachtsman Donald Crowhurst's ambition to win the Sunday Times round-the-world yacht race.
After experiencing difficulties en route to the Cape of Good Hope he attempts to win the race without ever circumnavigating the globe, by providing false positions, but in the end his love of family, his pride, guilt, the sea and ultimately insanity get the better of him and his only course of action is suicide.
This documentary is well constructed and told with sensitivity and empathy. The power of the sea on the participants, both physically and mentally, is telling. The DVD extras such as the interviews with Crowhurst's wife and children's demonstrate how well the family coped with the tragedy, and the interviews with the Sunday Times journalists of the period add a well-rounded completeness to this film.