Deep Water

Deep Water. We rented it last night. The story revolves around Donald Crowhurst, an entrant in the 1968 solo, round-the-world yacht race. Crowhurst is a family man, a dreamer and a “weekend sailor.” He imagines himself doing something grand and glorious in the tradition of British adventures, but is ill-prepared for the reality. The initial preparation still allows for daydreaming; from the first actual voyage – from his home to the starting point – things go awry. Crowhurst, whose navigational aid business just barely kept his family afloat, relied upon sponsorship to purchase a boat, supplies, etc. His sponsor insisted he sign a contract promising to pay back the investment if he were to drop out of race. This put Crowhurst in the position of having to choose between financial ruin or certain death.

Because the event was the first of its kind, both the newspapers and the BBC covered Crowhurst extensively. The documentary intersperses the archival footage, including film taken on the journey and narration from Crowhurst’s log, with recent interviews with his wife, son and other players from the time. As a result, we’re swept along, watching the unravelling, both of his ship and his psyche. It’s heartbreaking, of course, not just because of the obvious reasons, but also because we want to believe that we can do the impossible, that our wild dreams can come true with a bit of luck and willingness to try. We need Crowhurst to succeed to confirm our belief that giving your all in hopes of making your mark isn’t wrong. Instead the anticipation comes in the form of dread. The character study of Crowhurst is sympathetic, despite his mistakes; in addition to taking us along on the actual journey, the movie navigates the complexities of being human as well.

Which is all very vague, I know, but I hate to ruin any moments by giving them away. If that description intrigues you, you’ll appreciate it.

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