At this point, it was many moons and a few short posts ago that I saw Ric Burns’ new film on The Pilgrims, which was part of the Smithsonian’s History Film Forum. Write-up here. (If you haven’t seen The Pilgrims yet, go do it.) The summary of the film is that the founding of Plimoth Colony has but the most passing of relationships with the popular perceptions we celebrate every Thanksgiving holiday.
Shortly after that I was at the library when the colorful cover of Mayflower caught my eye. I saw the author was one Nathaniel Philbrick, who most recently is known for having written the book on which the recent Chris Hemsworth movie, In the Heart of the Sea, is based. I have neither seen the film nor read the book, but I had heard the book was positively reviewed by people who matter. That was enough for me, so Mayflower came home with me.
One of the events of the History Film Forum in November was an advance screening of The Pilgrims, the newest documentary by Ric Burns. My primary interest in this was to see how they treated my family’s direct ancestor John Billington, infamous for being a knave and a scoundrel, but I was also curious to see how Ric Burns could give the Thanksgiving story the same thorough treatment he and his brother Ken had given The Civil War.
Because even the director, Mr. Burns himself, and the Film Forum program director acknowledged that the Pilgrims are not where one looks for a dramatic Thanksgiving story. We all know what happens, right? The Pilgrims set sail for America in search of religious freedom, struggled through the first winter, and were saved by the friendly and benevolent Indians, who fed them turkey and squash, and together all thrived into Massachusetts colony, which became the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Welllllllllll, yeah sort of not really.
[ For an interview with the director, click here. I want to quote that entire article. Go read it before you click for more below. ]