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Desperate Crossing: the Untold Story of the Mayflower
I have had an opportunity to preview of the History Channel's "Desperate Crossing: the Untold Story of the Mayflower", and can strongly recommend that you watch it. The movie will be first shown on Sunday, November 19th at 8 pm Eastern and Pacific, 7 pm Central. The movie was filmed at Plimoth Plantation and on the Mayflower II, as well as in England, Belgium and Virginia, so it has a very authentic feel. Click on one of the adjacent photographs to see an enlarged version. Use the "Back" button on your browser to return to this page.
This is far from being an "action" movie, although it has its moments, such as the Indian attack on Cape Cod. The movie's strength is the detailed description of motivation - for Pilgrims, for "Strangers" like Edward Doty, and for the Native Americans.
Some tidbits - Faces, accents and costumes are so authentic that you feel that these are not actors. The story is sometimes very slow, as in the dead of the first winter, when half of the members of the community died. The events at that time probably seemed to occur in slow motion. On some days two or three people died and had to be buried in the frozen soil.
Through crisis after crisis, starting even before the Pilgrims emigrated to Leiden, their mission seemed doomed. As I have said before, it is a miracle that the members of the Doty Society exist; the odds were greatly stacked against Edward's survival on the trans-Atlantic crossing and life in the New World.
The relationship with the Indians of the Wampanoag Nation, both in 1620 and today is very interesting. If you have not yet had the opportunity to visit the Wampanoag village at Plimoth Plantation, it is well worth the walk. Although the Native Americans are in costume, just as in the History Channel movie, their conversations are definitely 21st century. The collective memory of the Wampanoags and their research of the events of the winter of 1620-1621 seem as fresh as if it were only yesterday, both in the movie, and when you speak to the the descendants who staff the village at Plimoth Plantation. Perhaps we should invite their historian to speak at our next triennial banquet.
Very few of the Pilgrims, Strangers and seamen are named in the movie. Please let me know if you find any reference to Edward Doty. I think he is "below the radar". I have recommended that you read the book "Mayflower". The author, Nathaniel Philbrick, narrates a portion of the movie.
In summary, watch the movie on the History Channel, and stick with it through the slow parts. Remember that the movie will be first shown on Sunday, November 19th at 8 pm Eastern and Pacific, 7 pm Central. Please send your review of the movie to our newsletter editor, Calondra Ludlow, for possible inclusion in an article in a future newsletter.
Adam Gaus, Webmaster Emeritus
Prepared by Adam Gaus, WebMaster Emeritus
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Updated January 4, 2011