‘A Unique Situation in the History of Cinema’: Crowhurst (2018), The Mercy (2018) and the Biopic Too Much

Journal article


Robinson, M. 2023. ‘A Unique Situation in the History of Cinema’: Crowhurst (2018), The Mercy (2018) and the Biopic Too Much. Quarterly Review of Film and Video. pp. 1-29. https://doi.org/10.1080/10509208.2023.2176117
AuthorsRobinson, M.
Abstract

Donald Crowhurst entered the 1968 Sunday Times boat race hoping to secure fame and fortune, but his voyage ended in disaster. His trimaran was found empty in the Atlantic Ocean, and his logbooks revealed that he had grossly exaggerated his progress to the media. There were two ‘Crowhursts’ in this race: an amateur out of his depth, and an alter ego he presented to the world. The two films about Crowhurst released in 2018 illustrated the phenomenon of ‘duelling’ biopics, while reflecting the two ‘Crowhursts’ at the mystery’s heart. StudioCanal purchased the distribution rights to the low-budget Crowhurst with the obligation to release it in cinemas shortly after The Mercy, their prestige production. The arrangement ensured that The Mercy would overshadow Crowhurst’s release and not vice-versa. These films approach Crowhurst’s life in very different ways: whereas The Mercy charts a formulaic route through the biopic’s generic waters, Crowhurst departs from convention by plunging the sailor into uncharted territory between biopic and horror. Hence the uncanniness of Crowhurst’s own fabricated double was reflected in the films which portray his life: each offers a different representation of Crowhurst’s race, a different set of generic coordinates to reflect Crowhurst’s own fabrications at sea.

KeywordsCrowhurst; biopic; The Mercy; uncanny; horror
Year2023
JournalQuarterly Review of Film and Video
Journal citationpp. 1-29
PublisherRoutledge - Taylor and Francis
ISSN 1543-5326
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/10509208.2023.2176117
Web address (URL)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10509208.2023.2176117
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online14 Feb 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited13 Mar 2023
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