As disastrous an idea as it was for amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst to compete in a 1968 solo sailing race around the world, it was a smart decision on the parts of directors Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell to adapt the story into the documentary Deep Water. The events that led Crowhurst to risk life and sanity in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race build not only into a gripping battle between man and the elements, but also a study into the psychology of bad choices and how those who make them deal with their consequences.
Osmond and Rothwell bind together interviews with Crowhurst’s loved ones, footage Crowhurst himself took at sea, archive news footage and polished graphics with a level of care that perhaps Crowhurst himself should have taken before beginning his ill-fated odyssey. And while a film focusing entirely of a mad who made mistake after mistake could have easily infuriated viewers, the directors wisely spend time with those who enabled these mistakes to happen-most prominently Crowhurst’s wife Clare, whose heartbreaking guilt serves as Deep Water‘s emotional center.
The film treats Crowhurst respectfully, even in light of his decision to lie about his progress in the race. In the end, a fantastic voyage seems relatable and relevant. In addition to thematic ties to Into the Wild (also in theaters now), Deep Water reminds viewers of man’s place in nature and of the catastrophe that can follow when one cannot admit his errors – both themes never more painfully important than today