American Experience: Season 22, Episode 8

Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World (10 May 2010)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, History
8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 53 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 1 critic

The American Experience looks at the history of American whaling from its off-shore origins in the 17th century to the golden age of deep water whaling and the eventual decline in the decades after the Civil War.

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Title: Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World (10 May 2010)

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Episode credited cast:
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Gideon Folger & Paul Macy (voice)
D. Graham Burnett ...
Himself - Historian
Margaret S. Creighton ...
Herself - Historian
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Himself - Narrator (voice)
Andrew Delbanco ...
Himself - Writer
Eric Jay Dolin ...
Himself - Writer
Mary K. Bercaw Edwards ...
Herself - Melville Scholar
Stuart M. Frank ...
Himself - New Bedford Whaling Museum
...
...
...
Herman Melville (voice)
Michael Moore ...
Himself - Marine Biologist
Lisa Norling ...
Herself - Historian
Nathaniel Philbrick ...
Himself - Writer
...
Poem Reader (voice)
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The American Experience looks at the history of American whaling from its off-shore origins in the 17th century to the golden age of deep water whaling and the eventual decline in the decades after the Civil War.

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10 May 2010 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

Great Documentary
22 March 2012 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

The American Experience: Into the Deep: American, Whaling & the World (2010)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

This is a rather ambitious documentary that actual covers three events connected by one tie. The first even is how back in the day whaling helped form America because it became one of the first major ways to get income moving. The second story deals with the tragic events surrounding the whaling ship The Essex, which was struck by what seemed like a vengeful whale. The ship would end up sinking and then men aboard would features some of the greatest horrors. Lastly, these events would help Herman Melville write 'Moby Dick' which would end his writing career but later bring him fame. I had never really paid any attention to any of the three subjects here and in fact I had never even heard of The Essex and its story so that's why I wanted to check this documentary out and in the end it goes through so much detail that you really come away as if you know everything on the matter. The film contains some awfully dramatic moments no matter which story they're covering. It's fascinating hearing the various ways that whaling helped changed this country back in the day and what issues it would face as wars would break out. For The Essex, it was fascinating hearing about the whale attack and the aftermath, which has the survivors doing unimaginable things to try and stay alive. The fatal mistake they make refusing to go to one island because they thought cannibal were there and then it would turn out that they would turn into cannibals themselves. Director Ric Burns does a wonderful job at mixing these three stories and telling us their history but I think the stuff will Melville wasn't needed. I say that because it's clearly the least noticed of the three stories and in fact there's not too much told about it other than the book was a flop only to be discovered sixty years later. I think it could have been mentioned as being influenced by The Essex but its whole story left for another documentary. Either way, this is clearly a wonderful documentary but people should be warned that there's some graphic violence from older footage showing whales being slaughtered.


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