- Behind-the-Scenes featurette
Desperate Crossing: Mayflower
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Filmed on location in Europe and Plymouth Plantation and featuring dialogue taken from original source material, DESPERATE CROSSING: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE MAYFLOWER catapults viewers back to the 1600s. Actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company join members of the Massachusetts Wampanoag tribe in creating dramatic period reenactments that bring to life the Pilgrims' harrowing journey and first year of survival. (New Video)
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The clothing, lighting, effects (especially while on the Mayflower), and, at times, even some of the speech patterns are reflected fairly accurately. I did not see the typical revisionist history so often reflected in many of today's historical depictions. They were very religious folk bent on keeping their practices, even if they had to cross the ocean to do it, and this movie shows that in no uncertain terms.
The Indian dramatization was done very well for the most part, although I would have preferred to have their speech in their original (or close to their original) language and include the use of sub-titles.
Oh well, can't have everything.
As an extra added bonus, by the way, there are a couple of short (too short!) extra's - one features the making of this extraordinary documentary, and the other has outtakes and bloopers.
For teachers and lovers of history I recommend this docu-drama very highly. A wonderful way to learn about our early American history.
Scrooby, England: This is the city and country where the story of the Pilgrims began.
Pilgrims: They were emigrants to a new world and history refers to the group of people on the Mayflower as Pilgrims.
William Bradford: He wrote most most of the information that is known about the Pilgrims. In 1607 he was an orphan, but was passionate about theology.
Church of England: It was established in 1534 by King Henry VIII.
Protestants: Martin Luther and others hoped to reform the Catholic Church. Many English people were happy when King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church because they hoped the Church would be reformed.
Separatists: Some people felt the king's church could never be purified and wanted to separate from it. They thought there shouldn't be a church of England, but the English courts moved against these people.
Puritans: They wanted to make the Church a better place and remove bad practices from the Catholic Church.
King James: James is intellectual, a practical Scottish politician, and believes he is God's right hand man on earth because he was king. He believed in religious unity and obedience. (10 minutes)
Holland: The separatists decided to go to this country because they heard there was Freedom of Religion for all people. They were forced to secretly leave England for Holland, but were captured by an English magistrate. They were finally allowed to leave and emigrate to the Netherlands.
Netherlands: It is a country that is a melting pot. The Dutch state has seven sovereignties that allow religious tolerance. (15 minutes)
Amsterdam: The city is more industrial than agrarian and caused Bradford difficulty because his background was in farming.
Dorothy May: She was a separatist who came to Holland and eventually became the wife of William Bradford.
congregation: This is a religious assembly of persons or believers. Separatists, Pilgrims, and other Protestants had various congregations.
John Robinson: The pastor to the 300 English refugees or Separatists living in Holland.
William Brewster: He was a church elder and learned how to use a printing press in his fifties. He used the press for profit and publishing pamphlets against the oppressive rule of King James. (20 minutes)
Dutch: Many of the Separatists became concerned that the Dutch were too worldly and set poor Christian examples for their children.
America: This was home to only about 2,000 Europeans and millions of native inhabitants.
Jamestown: This was not a very successful colony, but the Separatists still discussed the possibility of moving to this area of America.
Native Americans: Some of these people were captured or kidnapped and brought back to Europe as human specimens or living advertisements of the Americas.
Virginia: The Pilgrims decided to settle in this location because it was claimed by the king of England.
Leiden, Netherlands in 1618: The Pilgrims had to get permission from King James in this year to go to Virginia in America.
Edward Winslow: He was a young printer who worked for Brewster and became a member of the Separatist congregation
Speedwell: Fifty-five Separatist colonists left Holland on July 23, 1620 to England on this small ship that was purchased for their voyage to the New World. (43 minutes)
Mayflower: In Southampton, England, the Pilgrims locate this ship. Its was a merchant vessel or cargo ship. It was not designed as a passenger vessel, but it was a standard form of transportation in the seventeenth century. There are 102 passengers that end up traveling on the Mayflower.
Tradesmen or Strangers: This group of people also traveled with the Pilgrims. Many of the people had special skills, such as a barrel maker. Bradford called the people "strangers."
voyage: On August 5, 1620, the Mayflower and Speedwell left on the trip to America. (52 minutes) The Speedwell was left behind and more people were forced to travel on the Mayflower because it was not seaworthy. Twenty passengers left the journey at Plymouth, England. The main beam almost broke in October and nearly caused the ship to split in two. Fortunately, a Pilgrim had brought a large screw that was used to jack up the main beam. A sailor died on the journey and a baby named Oceanus was born to the Hopkin parents. The journey took nine weeks.
Master Christopher Jones: He is the captain of the Mayflower was hired to take the Separatists to Virginia.
diet: hardtack, salted beef, and beer was the main food for passengers on the Mayflower
Hudson River: On November 9, 1620, land located at Cape Cod was spotted. This was the location that the Pilgrims hoped to establish their colony. It was far north of Jamestown, but legally still part of the English colony of Virginia. Master Jones was forced to go to another location because of bad weather.
Mayflower Compact: Pilgrims and the laborers argued over the leadership of the new colony when Master Christopher Jones was forced to land the Mayflower outside of the original patent for the Hudson River location. All settlers came e up with an agreement or compact that acted as a temporary government for the colony. The document does not create democracy, but an elected authority.
Nauset: This is the name of the land where the Pilgrims first arrived. It was also the name of a local tribe that attacked the Pilgrim.
scurvey: Bradford wrote that a lot of the settlers were sick with this illness because of their poor diet. Symptoms include bleeding of the gums, bruising, and bad pain.
hospitalization: Many settlers died in the months of January and February; two to three people sometimes died a day. The few structures the settlers had made were used for hospitals. In the "heart of winter," fifty settlers died.
Samoset: He was the first Indian to make contact with the Pilgrims and other settlers. He knew basic English and was able to understand both cultures and communicate with the Pilgrims.
Massasoit: He was the chief of the Wampanoag tribe and brought sixty men from his tribe to meet the Pilgrims. Squanto accompanied this chief at the alliance meeting.
Wampanoag: The tribe was weakened by disease and made an alliance with the Pilgrims as a protection from the larger tribes in the region.
Squanto: He spoke English better than Samoset and ended up staying with the Pilgrims and teaching them about his native culture and farming. He learned English from John Slany, a shipbuilder, and lived for three years in Corn Hill. He was taken back to Newfoundland and traveled back to his tribe where he discovered everyone had died of plague.
England: Due to the harsh winter, illnesses, and deaths, the Mayflower crew brought nothing of value back to England. Investors were very disappointed to learn the cargo was a bunch of rocks, which helped provide balance to the Mayflower.
Thanksgiving: The first Thanksgiving was a three day feast with the Pilgrims and Wampanoags. They feasted on turkey, geese, bass, fish, and five deer that the Wampanoag brought. This feast was a time of celebration and giving thanks to God.
The story held my interest and I enjoyed the comments by various historians and authors, etc. I did think that the actor's costumes looked so very new and perfect, not what you would expect of people who were portrayed as poor, struggling and in desperate financial straits.
I thought some of the Native American spokespeople still hadn't gotten over the "invasion". They seemed somewhat put out with we European folk even though 400 years have passed.
It was an interesting history lesson - one with much more detail than anything I had been exposed to in my years of schooling. So, I felt it was valuable and useful and would encourage others to watch and enjoy it, too.