PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE (1952)

Key Passages

- approximate times given are marked from the beginning of the film, not the video tape -

0:01:03  A dedication to the Pilgrims
Preface to the film.
The history of mankind is the record of those who dared to venture into unknown realms: into the depths beyond the microscope, into the mysteries behind the stars, into the hidden areas of the mind, into the wildernesses of new continents.  This picture is dedicated to the immortal men and women who dared to undertake the Plymouth Adventure and so brought to a continent the seed that grew into the United States of America.

0:02:25  Derision of the Pilgrims
Two officers of the Crown mock the religious practices of the Pilgrims.
First Officer: Rum lot, ain't they?
Second Officer: Aye, they want to pray this way [hands together in prayer, pointing down] instead of this way
                         [hands pointing up] and they don't kneel; they prays standing up.  They calls it "religious
                         freedom" and for that they're sailing away to a black sea of darkness.

0:08:39  Two views of the Pilgrims
Captain Jones voices his scorn for these settlers; Weston points out their usefulness for his purposes.
Jones:  They are a rabble--a rabble of paupers running to some notions of wealth and adventure because they
            believe the tall tales they've heard from the New World.  And others running from the Church of England
            because they've got some new notions as to how to say their prayers.
Weston:  But there's one thing to be said for them.  They'll make good settlers because they've nothing to come
               back to.  They've sold their homes and spent their last shilling on equipage for the New World.  As for
               the religious dissenters, they are very earnest and determined to see it through.  And when you have
               even a small group like that, Captain, they're likely to infect the rest with their zeal, so they can say
               their prayers standing on their heads if they've a mind to, if they but build me a settlement there.

0:18:14  A pilgrimage
Brewster articulates the purpose of the voyage.
Brewster to Alden:  Because we're all on the same pilgrimage; every man on this ship is on a pilgrimage to a
                               spacious land where every man can set up a trade without pulling down two of his
                               neighbors and need not pluck his means from another's throat.  Such a man cannot be
                               tempted by five crowns to betray a fellow pilgrim.

0:31:23  A famous axiom
Gilbert Winslow says dissenters have invented a saying: "Cleanliness is next to Godliness."

0:32:07  Dreams of the New World
William Butten voices the thoughts of his fellow passengers about the New World.
Butten:  I'm goin' to be the first to see land.  I'll keep my eyes peeled, I will, then I'll be the first.  It 'twill be like
            the Garden of Eden, and I'm goin' to be the first to see it.

0:40:11  More contempt for the settlers
Captain Jones airs his disdain for the Pilgrims; the Pilgrim leaders respond.
Brewster:  Why do you hate us, Captain Jones?  Why are you so full of contempt for us?
Jones: Because you're hypocrites.  You talk fine of a new clean world, but what you're really dreaming of is
           getting rich from the gold you'll steal from the savages.
Bradford:  I grant you we may be commonplace men and no better than any others, but Heaven has chosen to
                create around us a situation to which we must rise or die in ourselves.  That's when men perform
                miracles, Captain Jones.

0:41:11  And still more contempt for the settlers
Captain Jones reveals where he puts his faith.
Jones: More women and children than men; sailing across an ocean into a winter wilderness with their women
          and children.  I'm carrying a cargo of madmen.
Winslow: You can't make a world only with men.  We're settlers, Captain Jones, not explorers or conquerors.
Jones:  You're fools, that's what you are.  And liars.  I can see through this clean new world talk.
Winslow:  It's possible, Captain Jones, that you see no further than the end of your nose.These are honest men.
Jones:  There are no honest men.
Winslow: There are those who try to be.
Jones:  I've lived long enough in the world to know what men are made of.  There's the good of the world, Mr.
           Winslow, the good clean sea and my ship, my good ship.  I put faith in my ship and she's never
            failed me.  Don't put your faith in men, and you'll never know disappointment .
Winslow:  Perhaps.  But then I could never know friendship or love, either.
Jones: (sneeringly)  Friendship!  Love!

0:54:04  The eternal optimist
William Butten again expresses hope for New World.
Butten:  I'm goin' to be a king in the New World, and I'm goin' to be the first one to see land.

0:54:36  The eternal pessimist
Captain Jones dashes Butten's hopes.
Jones:  If you think to be seeing palm trees and warm sands and living the life of ease, let me disabuse you of
           that right now.  It will be a cold winter world where fine words will be useless and your saints will be a
           burden.  A world in which only men of brawn and blood will survive.  A world in which men will have to
           be strong enough to care for the women they have dragged like cattle into the wilderness.

1:12:08  Total despair
Captain Jones confesses to Dorothy Bradford that he has also lost hope.
Jones:  I have a feeling we are all doomed, Mrs. Bradford--your adventurers and your saints and Bradford
           with his frenzy of religion and you with your sense of duty that has you bleeding at the soul.  And my
           scurvy-ridden crew and the empty water casks and the last crumbs of food.  And my broken ship.
           And my nights alone with this hunger for you that will not leave me.  Perhaps it will end soon in the
           dark sea.  And good riddance to all of us!

1:21:20  Confrontation between Captain Jones and the Pilgrim leaders
Bradford and Brewster discuss the change of landing site.
Bradford:  I don't know why you brought us to New England, Captain Jones, when you knew we were bound
                for Virginia.  Accident?  You're too good a navigator for that.  But here we are and here we intend to
                stay.  We decided that before we entered this cabin.  We're staying not because you are threatening
                and bullying us here for some reason of your own, but because we want it that way.
Brewster: This region here is better for us than Virginia because it's not so closely under the domination of the
                King and the Church.  Here we will have even more freedom.

1:21:56  Bradford shows some fighting spirit
Bradford tells Jones the settlers are not as docile as he (Jones) thinks.
Bradford:  Our good reasons don't concern you, Captain Jones, I know that, and what your reasons were we
                 may never learn, but let me tell you that if we had decided to land elsewhere, not all your guns and
                 cutlasses would have stopped us.  And if you think you can take Mr. Brewster back to  England with
                 you, you are mistaken. We are men well accustomed to fighting for our lives.  This you don't know
                 about us. But what we know of you makes us pity you now for the contemptible weakness that
                 greets us here with guns.  Call off your dogs!

1:23:33  Bradford takes charge (click here for link to audio recording)
Bradford and Brewster reason with the disgruntled settlers.
Bradford:  What is the deadliest danger we now face?  Hunger?  Wild beasts?  Savages? No, the deadliest
                 danger we face is that we may disagree, that we may each go grubbing in the wilderness for himself
                 alone and so face quick destruction.  Gentlemen, this is a new world.  It is possible here to revise old
                 institutions and to start a new system of a perfection and excellency that will fit our infant society, but
                 until such government can be devised, we must agree to stand together.  Let us therefore sign this
                 Mayflower Compact by which we all agree, irrespective of religion or former conditions, to unite in
                 one body politic and to obey all laws which it will be necessary for all of us to make.  What say you?
                 It is this or anarchy, and anarchy means disaster.
Brewster: We are not alone in this room.  God is in this room, for whenever a man goes upward he takes
                 another step toward the fulfillment of the Godhead that lies within him.  What say you, gentlemen?

1:25:10  Signing of the Mayflower Compact  (see my image gallery)
Winslow sums up the essence of this act.
Winslow:  Whether they know it or not, they have laid hold of great principles hitherto unrevealed to the nations
                 of the earth.  They are about to establish just and equal laws adopted and administered by the
                 people, a government based upon the will of the governed.

1:28:15  The significance of this day
Winslow notes the courage of these men.
Winslow:  I do not know if anyone will ever learn what was done here today, but if any of us survives, this day
                must be remembered for the courage of these weavers and hatters, those carpenters, tailors and
                tradesmen, shivering in their city clothes, frightened, setting forth into they know not what, holding
                guns they scarcely know how to shoot.  Ragged, foolish-looking, and weak as they are, they have the
                true splendor of man.

1:40:10  Captain Jones realizes he has been wrong
Captain Jones tells the settlers of his change of heart.
Jones:  The growth of the human spirit brings it closer to all living beings.  I was alone, now I am with my
            fellows.

1:41:40 A changed man
Captain Jones sails for England. (see my image gallery)
Jones:  Do you realize the wonder of it?  That a handful of sick and dying men have built that settlement, and
            now not one has appeared asking for passage back to England.
Brewster:  I'm glad we didn't disappoint you. I suspect that you too were on a pilgrimage, whether you knew it or
                not, searching for what?  A glimmer of hope for your discouraged heart?
Jones:  I can see the sails--two, then five, then fleets of them, coming here to join you.  I'll be among them.
 
 

Copyright © 2000 by Elsie W. Hamel, Graduate Student at Lehigh University

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