29 July 2008 | fwomp
What Documentaries Should Be...
Have you ever found yourself watching a film or documentary and having to hold yourself back from screaming things like "No! Don't do it!"? No? Well it's time you do. And undoubtedly DEEP WATER is the one to get you started.
The story is based on that of Donald Crowhurst and his entry into the first round-the-world yacht race to be undertaken by individuals in 1968. That word "individuals" is important, as the men who set off on this nearly suicidal escapade head out alone.
Most of the men are well-knowns in the sea-faring communities of England (where they launch from), but one of them is the "unknown dark horse," and his name was Donald Crowhurst. Struggling financially, Crowhurst enlists a backer who can take everything from him should he fail to at least attempt to make it through a large portion of the race. He could take his home, his property, everything.
Crowhurst now finds himself between a rock and ...well ...deep water: either attempt the race with an unproven ship and an unproven captain, or lose everything you own (which was significant since Crowhurst had a wife and several children). You'll note the term "unproven captain" in there, too. Not only was he unproven, he'd never been out on the open sea! Did I mention suicidal? Flicking between archival footage of the pre- and post-race, and those of Crowhurst's friends, family, and acquaintances of today, Deep Water is put together masterfully. Initially seen as a poor sap who got in over his head, the film gradually shows you the limited choices Crowhurst had after months and months out on the water. His ship leaks. Equipment breaks. Psyche stretched to the breaking point (and beyond). Crowhurst finds himself lost in an internal struggle with no successful way out. It is interesting, too, to see the psychological breaks that other racers have as they deal with their solitary confinement on-board their respective boats.
The wave-like emotions that you'll feel as you watch this astounding documentary may make you a bit ill (not unlike trying to get your sea-legs). And you'll probably be frustrated at the choices being made; perhaps just as frustrated as poor Mr. Crowhurst.
The ending is also amazing in that we get to see the actual ship that Crowhurst sailed, sitting deserted and rotting on a Caribbean beach ...not unlike other things that felt deserted and rotting toward the end of this poorly thought-out race.