Tuesday, September 23, 2008

MOVIE: Deep Water

Deep Water is a modern day reflection of Homer's Odyssey. By Homer, I mean the Greek poet. By Modern Day, I mean the 1960s. And by Reflection, I mean a well-told documentary about the events surrounding a much celebrate sailing race around the globe.

Being a fan of good story telling as well as obscure tales, I was mesmerized by Deep Water. I had never heard of the forlorn Donald Crowhurst or his lonely endeavors. But I was drawn into the pageantry and suspense of the race. I can not begin to fathom the sense of anticipation created around the world as the racers sent in their all too infrequent updates via radio telegraph. And surely it was the "HELO WORLD" heard across every civilized country when Crowhurst eventually came up for air. But I get ahead of myself.

Deep Water is directors Louise Osmond's and Jerry Rothwell's completely factual documentary about the events before, during, and after the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. Nine lone sailors took up the call to complete a solo trek around the world via sailboat. Bear in mind, this was 1968. No interactive radio. No GPS. Nothing but one man per boat with only their wits and determination lending them to the finish line.

Last to arrive on the battlefield is the hero of this neo-Greek tragedy: Donald Crowhurst. For his chance to touch fame and glory, he abandons his wife, leaves his children, goes heavily into debt, and departs all alone into the race as the obvious underdog. For him, like Odysseus, it isn't the journal it is supposed to be.

With real footage of the race, newspaper clippings, and well narrated portions of Crowhurst's journals, the plot of the race slowly unfolds. The battle to the finish line is every bit as epic in scope as anything from Homer. The multiple endings for the different racers is baffling. And the suspense behind Crowhurst's tale carries through, even in a modern light. Without spoiling any elements for potential viewers, I'll leave it at that.

For a documentary, Deep Water kept me glued to my seat. The pacing was excellent. Almost a touch long in the middle. But not distracting. The direction is wonderful. Osmond and Rothwell weave a very clever web with all the clippings and murky audio and grainy photos and nautical maps. Fantastic atmosphere set and maintained throughout the movie. A constant revelation of intriguing events and surprises. And ultimately the ending did not disappoint.

Definitely an entertaining date movie for a rainy night. Possibly something older kids would like. Well worth the price of a rental. I'm very glad I caught this obscure film before it faded into the twilight. I'd recommend it to anyone with a thirst for interesting history.

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