Deep Water (2006)
This documentary is stunning. "Deep Water" is one of the most thought provoking, powerful films I have seen. Incredibly tragic, with, I assure you, no happy ending, I feel the need to watch it again to think and digest what was presented to me. The description on the film sleeve doesn't do it justice: "In 1969, Donald Crowhurst, a former engineer whose bravado outweighed his sailing experience, entered a London Times-sponsored yacht race around the world....Refusing to turn back even as his homemade boat took on water, he depended on his ingenuity to survive the dangers of the sea and the threat of insanity." Yeah, that's part of it, but there is so much more to this story.
This is a Greek tragedy in spades. I compare Crowhurst's experience to the sinking of the Titanic in that if ONE thing had turned out differently anywhere along the line, maybe the ending would have been different. Crowhurst was at best a weekend sailor, attempting a solo, round the world race (at this point in world history, no-one had successfully done this), on a boat that wasn't finished, wasn't seaworthy, and that took on water in calm seas. No-one tried to talk him out of his hair-brained idea of competing. He had strong financial reasons for staying in the race, and was in danger of bankruptcy and losing his home (he had a wife and four small children) if he quit. Early in the race, he knew he wouldn't be able to quit and return home, and he knew his boat couldn't survive the rough waters in the southern oceans. So his choice was: ignominy, failure, and bankruptcy vs probable death. What to do?
Crowhurst created a third option, which actually impressed me in that had it succeeded, he would have found a clever way out of a terrible predicament. I can't tell you what he did without revealing a major spoiler. Just remember this is a Greek tragedy. Let me simply say, things didn't go well (for once, through no fault of his own) and his plan did not succeed. His metamorphosis from genial loser to tragic hero has my head and my heart reeling. What would I have done in his shoes? What makes a hero? When is it okay to step on someone's dream? Is it braver to face certain ridicule and failure or to keep on trying, even when the odds are virtually 100% against you? I will be pondering these and other questions for some time to come.
This documentary incorporates actual race footage of Crowhurst and other competitors, readings from his logs, as well as current interviews with family and others involved.
This is the best film I have seen all year. 5 of 5 stars. Highly recommended!
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