A Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of The Mayflower is a three-hour documentary special created by Lisa Wolfinger which reveals the true story behind the first Thanksgiving and the Pilgrim Fathers’ voyage to America aboard the Mayflower.
The series aired originally in the USA on The History Channel in November 2006. There are three hour-long episodes.
A Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of The Mayflower premieres in South Africa on DStv's The History Channel on Sunday 3 February 2008, at 20h30.
The Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony are a small band of religious extremists who flee persecution in Europe in the hopes of creating a more godly society in the New World.
These are not the sober, gray-haired Founding Fathers of legend - they're young, passionate and highly educated rebels who believe their king's religion violates the true faith.
Condemned as traitors in England and forced into a life of exile and poverty in Holland, the group decides to risk all and take their chances in the wilds of America.
But, in order to realise their venture, the pilgrims have to join forces with 50 so called "strangers," people who do not share their religious beliefs. The conflict between the two groups is exacerbated by a perilous sea voyage, disease and the harsh realities of surviving in the middle of winter in a hostile land.
After much turmoil and hardship the colonists form a cohesive group and find a way to forge a life for themselves in America, learning from and creating a fragile, temporary truce with the native peoples.
From the treacherous ocean passage to the first years of struggle to establish a new home, the story of Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony is the story of America - with all its contradictions.
Every American knows the story of the Pilgrims, their courageous voyage on the Mayflower and the first Happy Thanksgiving. But the homogenized and sanitized history learned as children and revisited every Thanksgiving holiday bears faint resemblance to the actual people and dramatic events of that desperate time.
This three-hour special from the makers of Witch Hunt and Conquest of America uses dramatic re-enactments based on original source material to bring to life the true story of the Puritans' terrible plight.
Dialogue and scenes are from original source material written by eyewitnesses and participants in the actual events of the early 1600s. In addition, some scenes have been reconstructed with unprecedented cooperation from the Wampanoag tribe in Massachusetts.
The program features all of the key characters in the Pilgrim saga: chroniclers William Bradford and Edward Winslow, Pastor John Robinson, organiser William Brewster, military leader Myles Standish, protagonist King James I, Massassoit (or chief) Osemequan, translator Squanto, and many more, as well as the wives and family members of the settlers.
Many actors used in the re-creations are from the Royal Shakespeare Company.
The program is filmed in HD primarily at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, but also at other period-appropriate locations in England, Belgium, Maryland, and Virginia and includes interviews with 15 leading American, Native American and British scholars.
A Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of The Mayflower digs deeper into the facts than any previous documentary, to paint a devastating picture of the difficult lives of these early immigrants.
Based on meticulous historical research and original source material including William Bradford's first-hand account, Of Plymouth Plantation, the program recreates the fascinating world of the Pilgrims in all its complexity.