Find out what we thought of the much awaited film, The Mercy, which stars Colin Firth as Donald Crowhurst, ahead of its release next year

03 October 2017

If you’re a fan of the original Sunday Time’s Golden Globe Race then The Mercy will not disappoint.

The film follows Donald Crowhurst’s disastrous attempts to win the 1968-69 race in his trimaran, Teignmouth Electron – and doesn’t take too much creative licence with the story.

Crownhurst’s boat was ill-prepared for such the voyage, which claimed his life, and left his wife, Clare, a ‘sea widow” and his children fatherless.

The amateur sailor the press dubbed “the mystery man” never made it past the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Instead, he falsified his logs and reported false positions after realising that his leaking trimaran would never make it through the Southern Ocean.

Crowhurst, who sunk everything he had into the venture, including using his house and business as collateral, had serious doubts about the voyage before he even left the Devon port of Teignmouth, where much of the film is shot.

Donald Crowhurst

Donald Crowhurst is played by Colin Firth in the film

This conflict between his fear of dying at sea, his fear of admitting failure and the subsequent humiliation, and his romantic hope of being crowned a British hero like Sir Francis Chichester if he did completed the voyage is well portrayed by Colin Firth, who leaves you in no doubt of the angst that Crowhurst must have suffered.

Firth plays Crowhurst as stoic – almost sleep walking towards his fate, unable to get off the runaway train he is on while clinging to the hope that he can prove his demons wrong and win the race.

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His descent into madness is not over dramatic. The moral dilemma he faces after fellow trimaran competitor Nigel Tetley sinks after pushing his boat too hard in the belief that Crowhurst was gaining on him, is not missed out.

A tear will certainly be shed towards the end of the film when Crowhurst apologises for his shortcomings to an hallucination of his wife, Clare.

Rachel Weisz is moving as Clare, bringing home the uncertainly and fears of the often forgotten sailor’s wife, who is left waiting on dry land.

Trying to hold her family together, she can be seen battling with her own demons after realising her outwardly confident husband is terrified of heading out to sea.

However, more could certainly have been made of the scene of their last night together, which didn’t quite convey the “frightful” experience that Clare Crowhurst later talked about.

Rachel Weisz as Clare Crowhurst

Sailors will be relieved to know that unlike a certain Robert Redford sailing film, The Mercy doesn’t leave yachtsmen and women tutting and shaking their heads in disgust during the sailing scenes.

Ok, so there were a few modern boats in Teignmouth harbour as Teignmouth Electron leaves the Devon port but other than that, the sailing in the film remains relatively solid.

And if you need more of a ringing endorsement, then this is what one of the original Golden Globe Race competitors had to say following the screening of The Mercy.

“It was a great film,” said Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who was the only competitor to complete and subsequently win the original race.

A nice touch is the film’s acknowledgement just before the end credits that Sir Robin subsequently donated his £5,000 prize money to Crowhurst’s family.

The Mercy is due to be released in the UK on 9 February 2018, ahead of the 50th anniversary Golden Globe Race, which starts on 30 June 2018 from Plymouth.

 

20 September 2017

The much-anticipated film about Donald Crowhurst’s ill-fated Golden Globe Race will now be released in the UK next year.

The Mercy, which stars Colin Firth has Crowhurst and Rachel Weisz as Crowhurst’s wife, Clare, was scheduled to be released on 27 October 2017.

Now the trade website, IMDb, is listing the film as being released in the UK on 9 February 2018.

The reason for the delay is unclear.

Directed by James Marsh, The Mercy follows Crowhurst’s attempts to race around the world to win the 1968-69 Golden Globe Race on his trimaran, Teignmouth Electron.

Crowhurst was ill-prepared for the voyage, suffering endless problems before deciding to secretly abandon the race.

Instead, he gave false positions, and prepared fictitious logs.

Many believe that Crowhurst was driven mad during the race, and the title of the new film comes from the final entry in his log, dated 1 July 1969 – “It is finished. IT IS THE MERCY… I will resign the game”.

Teignmouth Electron was found drifting in the Atlantic on 10 July 1969. Crowhurst was never found.

The Mercy was filmed during 2015 in Teignmouth.

8 June 2017

The release of the new Donald Crowhurst biopic, The Mercy, will take place on 27 October 2017.

The film, directed by James Marsh, stars the Oscar winning actors Colin Firth as Crowhurst and Rachel Weisz as his wife, Clare.

Crowhurst entered the 1968-69 Golden Globe Race in his 40-foot trimaran, Teignmouth Electron.

The weekend sailor hoped to win the race’s £5,000 prize money to bail out his failing business venture – selling his handheld radio direction finder called the Navicator, which allowed sailors to take bearings on marine and aviation radio beacons.

However, Crowhurst grossly underestimated his timings to prepare for the race, and left Teignmouth on 31 October 1968 – the last date he could leave under the race rules – without completing several safety features.

He soon ran into trouble and decided to secretly abandon the race, prompting him to lie about his location and to falsify logs.

His logs later suggested that Crowhurst was driven mad during the race, and his final entry – on 1 July 1969 – “It is finished. IT IS THE MERCY… I will resign the game” – inspired the film’s title.

On 10 July 1969, Teignmouth Electron was found in the Atlantic by the Royal Mail vessel, Picardy on 10 July 1969.

There was no sign of Crowhurst onboard.

The Mercy was filmed in 2015 in Teignmouth and Essex.

 

1 July 2016

First look images of the new Donald Crowhurst film have been released, along with the feature’s name.

The Mercy stars the Oscar winning actors Colin Firth as amateur sailor, Donald Crowhurst and Rachel Weisz as his wife, Clare.

It is based on the true story of Crowhurst’s infamous attempt to win the first non-stop single-handed round-the-world yacht race, the 1968-69 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race.

Crowhurst had entered the race in hopes of winning the £5,000 cash prize to aid his failing business.

From the start, he experienced problems with his 40-foot trimaran, Teignmouth Electron, and left the Devon port on 31 October 1968 ill prepared for what lay ahead.

After encountering further problems, he secretly abandoned the race, remaining in the South Atlantic.

He reported false positions in an attempt to appear to complete a circumnavigation without actually circling the world.

Log book entries found after his disappearance suggest that Crowhurst was driven to the edge of insanity.

His final entry, on 1 July 1969, was “It is finished. IT IS THE MERCY… I will resign the game.”

The film title is a reference to this last entry.

Teignmouth Electron was found, unoccupied, by the Royal Mail vessel, Picardy on 10 July 1969. There is speculation that Crowhurst committed suicide by jumping overboard.

The Sunday Times Golden Globe Race was eventually won by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

The Mercy was shot in Teignmouth and Maldon in Essex last year.

It will be opening in UK cinemas in 2017.

 

30 January 2016

Actor Colin Firth will play amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst in a new film about his failed attempt to win the first Golden Globe Race in 1968.

Donald Crowhurst

Donald Crowhurst is played by Colin Firth in the film

The British businessman is believed to have committed suicide while competing in the circumnavigation event, which saw Sir Robin Knox-Johnston crowned the winner.

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Crowhurst, who intended to use the prize money to support his failing business, was not a skilled yachtsman and made slow progress around the global course.

As the weeks went on, he eventually abandoned the race and reported false positions to race organisers, leading everyone to believe he was winning the race, when really he was in last place.

His boat Teignmouth Electron was later found drifting and recovered logbooks indicate that he’d suffered a mental breakdown due to the pressure and had jumped overboard.

The Theory of Everything director James Marsh will be taking the helm on the latest depiction of Crowhurst’s journey, with shooting set to begin in the spring.

So far, a total of four films have been produced on Crowhurst’s ill-fated expedition, with Blueprint Pictures and BBC Films behind the latest one.

Several plays and novels have also been written about the tragic story.