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Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower
Desperate Crossing The Untold Story of the Mayflower
Actors: Paul Drinan, Chris K. Layman, Erin Raftery, Sam Redford
Director: Lisa Wolfinger
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2007     3hr 0min

From their self-imposed exile in Holland and perilous Atlantic crossing in the Mayflower to unimaginable hardships encountered in their new land, this is the definitive story of the Pilgrims and how they came to live--and ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Paul Drinan, Chris K. Layman, Erin Raftery, Sam Redford
Director: Lisa Wolfinger
Creators: Yoram Astrakhan, Lisa Wolfinger, Jed Rauscher, Tony Bacon, Rocky Collins
Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Documentary
Studio: A&E Home Video
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 01/30/2007
Original Release Date: 11/23/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 11/23/2006
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 3hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 26
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

K. Giorlando | Eastpointe, Michigan United States | 02/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This History Channel presentation of the pilgrims is two and a half hours of a well-known and very important part of our American history, although you may not realize how little you actually do know of these separatists and of the times they lived. In fact, it certainly is more movie than documentary and, although interspersed throughout are historians filling in the gaps, this docu-drama is as engulfing and riveting as any full-length period movie I have seen. The lives and times of these early European settlers are authentically portrayed by use of English Shakespearian actors, and the quality shows. Never have I seen any other film put flesh on the bones of the pilgrims to the extent this one does. A social history extravaganza!
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."
New Light on an Old Story
J. S. Kaminski | Aberdeen, NJ United States | 12/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Most Americans know the story of the Pilgrims and Mayflower...or do they? The History Channel has done a great job here, showing us that there is more to the story than we'd been taught. For example, who knew that many of the Pilgrims had actually moved to the Netherlands for an extended period (12 years or so) before deciding to try their luck in the New World? Or that there were actually two ships (the other being called The Speedwell), but the 2nd one was left behind because it was deemed un-seaworthy? Or that the Pilgrims landed first, not at Plymouth, but on Cape Cod, only to be driven off by the Native Americans there? These facts and many others are revealed in this interesting film.

Four stars. A bit long (almost 140 minutes) but I found it worth the time!"
This is television & The History Channel at their best.
JOHN GODFREY | Milwaukee ,WI USA | 11/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It will be worth the dvd coming out the end of January. Shown now as Thanksgiving day fare. It is really an untold story. That is, the story of the struggles of the Separatist (Pilgims) in the 13 years before the Mayflower ever sailed. That was 1607, the year the first sucessful permanent colony was established in Virginia, named after King James. England was Protestant & The Anglican Church of England was the only lawful religion. James seemed to be quite pious in that regard. Not to the Separatist, who were loyal to the king in every way except religious. They printed tracts & even accused the King of popishness. This angered him & he harassed them until they left England for Holland. There they were tolerated but somewhat isolated & empoverished. This could not be a permanent solution & they decided that America might be option to consider. They needed a charter from King James who was basically angry with them but readily agree. He did not like them in Holland & in America they would be far away & out of his hair. Obtaining a ship, crew & provisions for the long trip was not cheap. Eventually they had to take non-believers with them who had money & for various reasons also wanted to leave. They had several fitful starts & even had to turn back several times. Finally they left England in late summer of 1620, a bad time to leave & even worse to land for it got them to America with winter bearing down & no chance to plant crops. They never got to Virginia. Instead they landed in Massachuetts Bay, outside of the area of their charter from the king. The weather prevented them from sailing out & around Cape Cod & south to Viginia. So there they stayed. Technically, they were no longer ruled by English law & the non-believers aboard knew this. They were not going to be governed by the rules that the separatist proposed once they landed. Both groups were of about equal size & what came about was the first great document in our history, The Mayflower Compact. Essentially a consensus document setting up a government with laws that all groups could live with. Quite remarkable. This document saved their lives. If they had split they surely would have perished. As it was, half the people died that winter. They pulled together & made it. These events were recorded for posterity by one of the original Pilgrims, William Bradford, who was there & later would become Govenor of the colony until shortly before his death in 1657. The reenactments for this documentary were quite well done. They choose a permenant site but not before fleeing & fighting some Native American tribes for stealing their seed corn & making friends with another tribe. A claim that there were over 50,000,000 people in North America at this time is hard to believe. But if true the number that died from disease & at the hands of Europeans over the next 250 years is truly a disaster eclipsing other examples of mass extinctions in history. By fall 1621 there was enough bounty to have a festival. According to this telling, the natives just dropped in bringing wild turkeys & both groups partied together for three days & nights. They ate all of the Pilgrims food. Later, they brought in supplies of venision, a high prestige gift of respect. The Pilgims were expected to do the same, that is drop in any time uninvited to eat & stay overnight. This version did not mention a story I had heard. The Pligims landed where they did because they were in a hurry to set up a brewery, having run through the ship's supply of beer. One thing that is important to point out is the Pilgrims did not come to America to practice religious freedom. They came to America for the freedom to practice their religion."
Wish this had been available when I was in grade school!
Thornns | upstate, NY | 07/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I felt cheated - went to school in a town where a significant percentage of graduating seniors attend Ivy League colleges - in other words, not a school system that is light on educational effort...but I never heard even 1/2 of this information about the Pilgrims! If this sort of information (and its excellent presentation) had been available when I was in grade school, I would have been much more interested and engaged US history and in history in general."