Review: Desperate Crossing, The Untold Story of the Mayflower

Review by Valeria Reckert

Desperate Crossing

“It’s a story familiar to most of us from school. And in many ways, the story of the passengers on the Mayflower is like that of every immigrant who has come to America to start a new life. Yet the true story of the Pilgrims is far more complex than the one most of us learned as children – and also more intriguing. This is a decades-long epic tale, filled with real drama, tragedy, and inspiration..” from The History Channel.

Through this review please bear in mind that I am not an expert on the history of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag’s. This is written from a person who believed what she was taught in school about the Mayflower and her landing in America. I have recently watched Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower and it has truly opened my eyes as to the hardships that the pilgrims encountered just to get here to America. The story was very revealing into the life they had before they sailed on the Mayflower and then life on board the Mayflower. Starting off with their lives in England and what compelled them to leave and start a new life. The location shoots were seemed very true to what it must have been in their day. The wardrobe also was true to what they must have worn. At times in the movie the clothing didn’t seem warm enough.

Meeting with Samoset

The encounters with the Wampanoag tribe was revealing in that it told more of their side of the story that I had not heard before. We always have to remember that there are two sides to every story and I didn’t realize how much of the Mayflower story was left out without the Wampanoag’s side being told. They could have made things much worse for our forefathers. Perhaps in today’s world we could learn from the past on how to get along. The acting was excellent using some of the characters from Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts and actors from England’s Royal Shakespeare Company. In true History Channel fashion it was a superb movie with narration done by historians, authors and experts with the main story being told by William Bradford from his own writings which came from his book, “Of Plymouth Plantation”.

I was somewhat disappointed though that my four grandfathers were not mentioned in the movie, Henry Samson, Richard Warren, Francis Cooke and James Chilton. That was my only disappointment in the movie. I highly recommend this film to all to watch. I feel that too many times Hollywood takes the facts of events and glamorizes it just to sell the movie. I do not feel that this movie was done that way. There is a very good eye opening story here to be heard. This film does include the first “Thanksgiving” and it does open your eyes as to what they really must have gone through to get here. I found myself transported back and at times felt as though I was there. Some documentaries seem to drag at times and I did not find that happening at all in this movie.

Living in Plymouth

I was curious about a couple of things while watching the movie so I sent a few questions to the Director/Producer Lisa Q. Wolfinger:

Val: “How long did it take to prepare for the filming and how long did it take to film it?”

Lisa: “We started working on the research for the script in January 2005 and have only just completed the project. We shot a total of a month and a half in the fall and winter of 2006 in Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, Belgium and England.”

Val: “Are they descended from any of the Pilgrims that came over on the Mayflower? If so who?”

Lisa: “I’m afraid I am not a descendant but I was educated in England and studied European history so the historical background to the pilgrim story was very familiar to me.”

Val: “With all that has been written, filmed, and documented on the Mayflower and the pilgrims, what compelled them to film the Desperate Crossing? Why was that part of the story important for them to tell?”

Lisa: “It was time to breathe new life into a tired legend and remind people that it was a true story involving real people. The voyage of the Mayflower is an iconic moment in history and deserves to be told in depth. I don’t think anyone has done it to date the way we have.”

I am now one very humbled and grateful grand daughter of the pilgrims. To the Director/Producer Lisa Q. Wolfinger, cast and crew, I personally thank you for the story you told. You did an outstanding job! I will watch this again and I give it a very high rating. Parents, you should have your children watch this for a better perspective of what happened. I feel it was superbly done. Thanks for telling the other side of the story!

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