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Deep Water (2006)

DEEP WATER is the stunning true story of the fateful voyage of Donald Crowhurst, an amateur yachtsman who enters the most daring nautical challenge ever – the very first solo, non-stop, round-the-world boat race.

Deep Water (2006)

Magellenic Trim

There are the things you do and things you do not, the line between describing a life. Ideally at the end you will have drawn something beautiful.

Superficially, this is one superb documentary. It is really well put together and by grace has enough original material to keep the current day storytellers from dominating the time. I did not know the story beforehand and I have to say that the way it developed in the telling was masterful. It tells the story of a stereotypical doofus Brit, caught in a depressed country with little national narrative at the time.

Someone sails around the world, is knighted, and celebrated as a valued example of the British spirit. (England is the only country on the planet that bestows such a title and blithely expects the rest of the world to honor their people through their representatives with every naming.)

The London press drove these stories so then sponsors a solo, non-stop race around the world. The idea is to generate exciting stories. Everyone benefits, except our fall guy. He takes the challenge, an inexperienced sailor in a boat cheaply made that had never been sailed and that was poorly provisioned. His sponsor promises ruin if he returns early.

Naturally he runs into difficulty from the first day and the story is a slow unfolding of a soul into well documented madness. As I say, it is a remarkably well told story.

But there is another level. All the storytellers here are the ones that got him into this mess so that they could own the story. That it turned out to be a story of dishonor instead of victory seems to have worked out well for them, especially the newspaper creep. On a second viewing, their status as untrusted narrators overwhelms and becomes the deep waters of the title.

But you know, the difference in character between the hero and buffoon here is no more than a smudge. The handsome, rich winner of the race — who pontificates soberly here — was an experienced solo sailer in a lavishly outfitted, fully tested boat. He was sailing waters that he knew and was in constant radio contact of help. He knew to leave early when the winds were advantageous. Our loser had none of that. I’ll take his choices as the brave ones, even the beautiful ones.

One wonders. The documents he left showed him going crazy. But he made up everything else; why not this?

Posted in 2012

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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