American Experience (1988– )
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The Pilgrims 

Recounts the founding (1620) and early years of the Plymouth Colony in the 17th century. Includes the real story of the "First Thanksgiving".


Ric Burns


Ric Burns


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Episode credited cast:
Artemus Cragg Artemus Cragg ... (extra)
Calypso Cragg Calypso Cragg ... (extra)
Julian Elfer
Michael Elwyn
Jos Brown Gaier Jos Brown Gaier ... William Bradford (teen)
Matthew Jure ... William Brewster
Howard Lee Howard Lee ... Richard Clyfton
Nathaniel Philbrick Nathaniel Philbrick ... Self
Oliver Platt ... Self - Narrator (voice)
Roger Rees ... William Bradford
James Thorne ... John Robinson
Tobias Vanderhoop Tobias Vanderhoop ... Self
Josh Webb Josh Webb ... William Bradford (boy)


Recounts the founding (1620) and early years of the Plymouth Colony in the 17th century. Includes the real story of the "First Thanksgiving".

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reenactment | See All (1) »



Did You Know?


This was actor Roger Rees last film project before his death in 2015. See more »


In various scenes depicting the Mayflower, the ship is featured to carry the Union Jack. This is incorrect because that flag was not adopted until 1801. Furthermore the United Kingdom (the union of England and Scotland), which it represents was not created until 1707. The only flag that the ship would have carried in 1620 was the English flag which is a white banner with a red cross known as Saint George's Cross. See more »

User Reviews

Perhaps not Ric Burns' most powerful film, but still informative and thought provoking
5 February 2017 | by runamokprodsSee all my reviews

I'm a big fan of Ric Burns, whose documentaries I sometimes find even more emotional and powerful than those of his better known (and also wildly talented) brother Ken.

This re-examination of the story of the Pilgrims who came to the New World on the Mayflower, and the ways with which the myths -- sometimes self-created myths, sometimes those that arose over time -- differ from reality was always interesting. I also found it gratifyingly complex in its examinations of the nature of origin stories we tell ourselves as human beings and as a nation. And lastly it was chock full of facts I didn't know. But I didn't find the kind of emotional power of some of Burns' other films; "Death and the Civil War", "Into the Deep", "Eugene O'Neill", "New York" etc.

None-the-less, I was never bored, and by the end I understood a lot more about this important - in event and symbolic meaning - piece of American history than I did before seeing the film, and that's enough for me to feel it was more than worthwhile.

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Release Date:

24 November 2015 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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