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Deep Water
Deep Water
Actors: Tilda Swinton, Donald Crowhurst, Jean Badin, Clare Crowhurst, Simon Crowhurst
Directors: Jerry Rothwell, Louise Osmond
Genres: Special Interests, Documentary
PG     2007     1hr 32min

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.


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Movie Details

Actors: Tilda Swinton, Donald Crowhurst, Jean Badin, Clare Crowhurst, Simon Crowhurst
Directors: Jerry Rothwell, Louise Osmond
Creators: Al Morrow, Cameron McCracken, François Ivernel, John Smithson, Jonny Persey, Paul Trijbits
Genres: Special Interests, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Travel, Documentary
Studio: Ifc
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 12/18/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 32min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 8
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Modern-day greek Tragedy
O. Buxton | Highgate, UK | 11/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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.

Yet, like a Greek tragedy, plot developments thereafter pile 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 all he needed them to do was simply 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.

Thoroughly recommended.

Olly Buxton"
An ordinary anti-hero
Daniel B. Clendenin | | 09/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In 1968 the Sunday Times of London sponsored a race to see who could circumnavigate the globe --solo and without stopping. Prizes were offered for the one who finished first and the one who finished fastest. Nine sailors entered the race, but this documentary film focuses on three contestants in particular-- Robin Knox-Johnston, who finished first by averaging 92 miles a day for 312 days (28,704 miles) and who appears in the film; the Frenchman Bernard Moitessier, who turned around just before finishing, forsaking fame and fortune for the isolation of the sea, and sailed an additional 10,000 miles to Tahiti (his book The Long Way tells his story); and then the amateur sailor and eccentric Donald Crowhurst who never should have entered the race under any circumstances. His bizarre story forms the real narrative of this film. It's difficult to say more without spoiling this film, but you can be sure that it's more of an exploration of the deep waters of the human psyche than an adventure tale. Interviews with family members and friends; archival film footage; news reels; diaries, audio tapes, 16mm film and ship logs by the sailors; and still photos lend authenticity to the pathos of this deeply human story. Two of the film's producers were John Smithson and Paul Trijbits who made Touching the Void."
Not for fans of the book
bp | USA | 01/01/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"If you're a fan of Tomalin and Hall's The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst be aware that this documentary is a different sea tale altogether. Tomalin and Hall's book is a psychological portrait of a small town intellectual desperate for recognition and success. Deep Water, on the other hand, emphasizes Crowhurst's economic plight portraying him more flatteringly as a kind of dreamy anti-hero. Readers of the Tomalin book will like the tidbits of old film footage but may find Crowhurst's tale constrained by the nature of the film medium and the editorial accommodations likely made for family members who are interviewed throughout."
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 12/30/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Deep Water" tells the strange story of Donald Crowhurst, an Englishman of limited sailing experience who was one of 9 men to take up the challenge issued by the Sunday Times in 1968: A non-stop single-handed boat race around the globe. There were doubts as to whether boat or human could withstand such an arduous, isolated journey. The first person to do it would win a Golden Globe. The fastest would win £5,000. Crowhurst was a struggling small businessman with a family who had never found the success he wanted from life. The opportunity for fame and prize money appealed to him. To get a sponsor to pay for his boat, Crowhurst staked all he had, including his house, on completing at least half of the race -a decision that would have bizarre and catastrophic consequences.

Crowhurst set sail in the 40-foot trimaran "Teignmouth Electron" on the date of the race deadline, October 31, 1968. The story of his voyage, his predicament, and surprising decisions is told through old 16mm movies taken on board the boat and interviews with son Simon and wife Clare Crowhurst, friend Ron Winspear, journalist Donald Kerr, and Ted Hynds, who was deputy to Crowhurst's dodgy press agent Rodney Hallworth. Competitors Robin Knox-Johnston and Bernard Moitessier provide an insider's perspective on the race, Moitessier in the form of films and logs, since he is deceased. Francoise Moitessier shares her husband's experience and her own. Along with Tilda Swinton's narration, they paint a compelling picture of this groundbreaking 10-month endurance test.

This is one of those rare documentaries that might suffer from spoilers, so I'll be vague. "Deep Water" superbly recreates Crowhurst's grave dilemma and his character which obliged him to cope as he did. It's fundamentally sympathetic to Crowhurst, more than I would have been, perhaps because those who knew him and were interviewed are understandably fond of the man. The filmmakers tactfully avoid saying that Crowhurst gambled the roof over his children's heads to satisfy his ego, and thereby became his own undoing. It also doesn't mention an obvious alternative which, in the end, Crowhurst failed to see. But between those two points, "Deep Water" is a penetrating and gripping account of a man trapped, almost literally, between the devil and the deep blue sea.

The DVD (IFC 2007): There are 4 featurettes and a theatrical trailer (2 min). "The Sailors' Stories" are text and interviews about the contestants. Alex Garozzo, Donald Crowhurst, Loick Fougeron, and John Ridgeway have brief text bios. Very worthwhile are interviews with Chay Blyth (5 min), Bill Leslie King (6 min), Robin Knox-Johnson (10 min) and with the widows of Bernard Moitessier (6 min) and Nigel Tetley (7 min). "The Journalists' Story" (11 min) recounts how the Sunday Times conceived of and reported the boat race, creating the story, not just reporting it, through interviews with journalists Murray Sayle and Philip Norman, editor Harold Evans, et al. "The Family's Story" (7 min) interviews wife Clare and 2 of the Crowhurst children about how they came to understand their father's actions. "The Abandoned Boat" uses some photos of the Teignmouth Electron to present 11 of Donald's audio recordings and some of his notes and diagrams. Subtitles are available for the film in English SDH and Spanish."