Donald Crowhurst on TV

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Donald Crowhurst on TV

Postby Alex Fop » Sat Nov 03, 2007 10:19 am

Deep Water, this Monday, 5 Nov, 9pm Channel 4. Highly recommended viewing

"Deep Water (2006)

The True Story of Donald Crowhurst and the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race

In 1968, after the phenomenal amount of press coverage generated by Sir Francis Chichester's solo circumnavigation with only one stop, London's Sunday Times decided to sponsor the first singlehanded, non-stop round-the-world yacht race. Of the nine sailors who started, five withdrew from the race before the end of November 1968, one was rescued from his sinking boat, one decided not to finish the race for philosophical reasons and one completed the challenge to gain a permanent spot in sailing history. The ninth entrant was Donald Crowhurst.
The Lure of the Sea
Deep Water directors Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell immediately draw the viewer into the drama that was the 1968-69 Sunday Times Golden Globe race. Archival footage amply illustrates what a major event this was in fact, in the public eye, and in every print and video newsroom in the U.K.

The sailors were instant celebrities for, as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (who eventually won the race) comments in the opening sequence, "This was something that a human hadn't yet attempted to do. First of all, we didn't know if a boat could take it. Secondly, there was considerable doubt if a human could take it."

Beyond the fame and thrill of testing the unknown, the Sunday Times was awarding two prizes. The first man around would receive the Golden Globe trophy, while the fastest man around would get £5,000 - a sum of money equivalent to over $100K (US) in 2006. And entering the race was a simple matter. All one had to do was declare his intentions and set off between June 1 and October 31, 1968.

The Dark Horse
It is into this scene of media near-frenzy that we are introduced to Donald Crowhurst, a 35-year-old businessman, husband and father of four children. He was the contestant no one had ever heard of, a weekend sailor at the helm of a failing navigational electronics company.

Deep Water moves chronologically through Crowhurst's life, and we begin to understand both his complex personality and why it was almost inevitable that he would undertake a monumental quest. It is actually quite easy to understand how and why he got caught up in this race. Harder to understand are the villains that shortly emerge in turn: the parsimonious sponsor who got Crowhurst by the short hairs, the PR man who spin-doctored Crowhurst to the point of desperation, and the media itself with its ravenous appetite for fresh meat.

Slow Boat to Madness
The film unfolds at an even pace as we watch Crowhurst build and launch his trimaran Teignmouth Electron while the October 31 start deadline draws ever more close. He had a hard time sailing her and it's obvious to even a non-sailor that she was not fully equipped. Perhaps it's the original soundtrack, perhaps it's purely hindsight, but the feeling that events had swirled completely out of control comes into horrifying focus as Crowhurst finally, almost reluctantly started at the last possible moment ... and then returned to port shortly thereafter with a fouled sail.

Setting off one last time, he realized within hours that Teignmouth Electron was not seaworthy. Herein lies the rest of the film: if he retired, he would be financially ruined, but to continue to race was almost certain suicide. Slowly and methodically, his inventor's brain concocted a plan to achieve the best possible outcome. It involved lies, subterfuge and two sets of log books ... and just might have worked if the rest of the race had gone even partly as expected.

As one contender after another dropped out, sank or refused to finish, Crowhurst was forced to watch his plans unravel and face the growing probability of being exposed. Deep Water is meticulously researched, its production team having had access to Donald Crowhurst's log books, records, letters and footage and still photographs shot prior to and during the race. All of these lend chilling notes of authenticity; you find yourself thinking, incredulously, "This wasn't fiction. This is a documentary. Good lord, this really happened."

Survival Stories
While Deep Water is the story of Donald Crowhurst's sensational participation in the Golden Globe race, it is also the story of the family he left behind when he set sail. The film marks the first time his wife, Clare and son, Simon have spoken publicly about events surrounding Crowhurst's voyage. Many years after the fact, they are sympathetic figures who fill in the human blanks of the man the media described as a mystery.

Watch It
The race, the boats, man against sea, the sea itself - all of these are abundant in Deep Water. These elements will appeal to any sailing buff. The archival materials and first-person interviews will satisfy even the most nit-picking historian. And the story of Donald Crowhurst's gradual descent into madness will ring disturbingly true to anyone who has ever found him- or herself caught in a situation gone off the rails.

'Deep Water' is rated PG for thematic elements of mental illness and suicide." ... er_doc.htm
Alex Fop

Postby Alex Fop » Sat Nov 10, 2007 4:04 pm

This was a fantastic film. Its on again tonight - 10pm on More4. Highly recommended.
Alex Fop

Postby Icke » Sun Nov 11, 2007 9:23 pm

My former mentor Rodney Hallworth speaks on this programme from beyond the grave.
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Re: Donald Crowhurst on TV

Postby pomfob » Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:26 am

There was a big screen version being made, with Colin Firth I believe. Whatever happened to that? And of course, Crowhurst should be familiar to all the iLiKETRAiNS fans around here.

Yes, I know, 11 year old thread, but it's too quiet round here.
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Re: Donald Crowhurst on TV

Postby avocetboy » Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:25 pm

Colin Firth film, is called The Mercy. I really enjoyed it. Really sad story
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Re: Donald Crowhurst on TV

Postby pomfob » Wed Jan 23, 2019 12:52 pm

avocetboy wrote:Colin Firth film, is called The Mercy. I really enjoyed it. Really sad story

Ooh, ta. As I'm not a Netflixxy person, I'll keep an eye out for it on the Freeview channels and ~ or DVD. Be nice if Deep Water was repeated too.
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