The Lion and the Mouse: The Story of America and Bermuda, narrated by Michael Douglas, is a series of three hour-long documentary films that tell the story of Bermuda’s role in American history, and the conflicts and characters that shaped the relationship between the little Atlantic island and the great nation that dates back four centuries.
LENGTH: 153 Minutes
CATALOG #: 20444
UPC #: 6-4603204449-2
ISBN #: 1-56839-343-1
RELEASE YEAR: 2010
PRODUCER: Afflare Films Ltd
Bermuda found itself caught up on both sides in a succession of wars between the continents. Isolated by location, the island reinvented itself, adapted, and prospered in a changing Atlantic world, from saving the colonists of Jamestown, to smuggling gunpowder stolen from the British armory on the island to George Washington’s revolutionary army, to launching the fleet that burned Washington, DC in the War of 1812, to running the Union blockade in the Civil War, or on the other side, as soldiers fighting for “Glory.”
Right or wrong Bermuda has played an instrumental role in the history of America, continuing through two World Wars and the Cold War, as Bermuda evolved from a center of counter espionage, to the frontline of U.S. coastal defense. From its central location in the Atlantic, Bermuda became a strategic lynchpin for the United States. The island overcame insignificance in size, and maximized its strategic mid-Atlantic location for both military and trade pursuits. Bermuda became the place that U.S. President William Howard Taft was to immortalize in his now famous words, “Never in global history has such a small country played such a large role in International Affairs.” The moral of the story is that “Little friends can make great friends.”
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Audience Choice Award, The Bermuda International Film Festival, 2009
Golden Reel Award, The Nevada Film Festival, 2009
Award of Excellence, The Indie Fest, 2009
The Doreen Lightbourn/Lionel Pearman Award, 2009
National Trust Awareness Award, 2009
“The Lion and the Mouse: The Story of America and Bermuda is an in-depth look at the complex relationship between the two territories, beginning with Bermuda’s first settlers, shipwrecked there on the way to Jamestown. The film covers the early settlement and life, Bermuda’s role in the American Revolution, War of 1812 and Civil War; the island’s strategic position in World War II; and on to its economic adaptation during the latter part of the 20th century.
Its two and a half hour running time allows the film to offer perspectives from individual people, as well as the events. The narrative includes scripted reenactments and monologues from figures in the island’s history, in addition to the historian comments and narration by actor Michael Douglas. The reenactments become more successful as the film progresses, events become more clearly defined, and sets and costumes more convincing. The third part also adds more variety with the introduction of historical footage.
Seeing the familiar history of America from the perspective of Bermuda is fascinating, particularly stories of the influence of individuals and groups on the island. One example is Bermuda’s Friendly Society who, after slavery had been abolished in Bermuda, petitioned that the slaves on the Enterprise, a slave ship on its way to America, be given the option of remaining on the island in freedom.
The technical standards are good and although it begins slowly, The Lion and the Mouse progresses into a fascinating and thought provoking look at how important a role a seemingly insignificant island can play in the world.” Recommended – Educational Media Reviews Online
“Narrated by Michael Douglas, this three-part series chronicles the historical relationship between North America (first the English colonies, and then the United States) and the British island group off the North Carolina coast, using Aesop’s titular fable as a metaphor for the ways in which the great and small powers have interacted. The series covers Bermuda’s initial settlement by a group of Brits headed for Jamestown and its significance in trade and tourism, while also emphasizing its role in abolitionism; but most of the story—understandably, given Bermuda’s strategic location in the Atlantic—focuses on wars. The involvement of islanders on both sides of the American Revolution is followed by an account of Bermuda’s central importance in the War of 1812 and its role during the Civil War (with residents once again divided), as well as the two world wars (particularly intriguing are episodes dealing with spies and top-secret naval missions). Filmmaker Lucinda Spurling mixes conventional documentary techniques—narration, archival footage/stills, artwork, and interview excerpts—with somewhat stilted dramatic reenactments. A valuable treatment of a significant but largely ignored sidebar to both U.S. and British history, this is recommended.” Three STARS – Video Librarian
“ A rare perfect craft” – Emmanuel Itier, Buzzine Review
“The Lion and the Mouse demonstrated Ms. Spurling’s talent for filmmaking” – Jessie Moniz, The Royal Gazette
“It is easy to imagine watching The Lion and the Mouse on the History Channel.” – Jessie Moniz, The Royal Gazette.
“The largest historical documentary ever to be made about Bermuda” – Helen Jardine, Bermuda Sun
“ Bermuda’s 400-year history brought vividly to life” – Sarah Lagan, Bermuda Sun
“Film maker Lucinda Spurling does our fascinating 400 year history complete justice” – Sarah Lagan, Bermuda Sun
“Meticiously researched” – Sarah Lagan, Bermuda Sun
“Ms. Spurling does not hold back… contributions are cleverly weaved together to make an engaging story.” – Sarah Lagan, Bermuda Sun
Commentary by Lucinda Spurling, Writer and Director
The moral of the Aesop’s fable, The Lion and the Mouse is “Little friends may make great friends.” It is a story of survival, conﬂict and reinvention. Documentaries should work on many different levels and here, you have the fable of the lion, America and the mouse, Bermuda, but you also have two “character narrators” who reappear throughout the ﬁlm in different eras in the dramatizations. This approach is a structural and creative device, to popularize history and give it immediacy while exploring the idea of history as a continuum. The female character narrator, plays a white woman who starts in 1609 as a sea venture castaway, Mrs. Rolfe. The male character narrator, plays a black man who starts in 1616 as Bermuda’s ﬁrst slave. They begin in separate eras and through time their lives become more entwined. This approach gives a voice and face to two underrepresented historical groups, women and blacks, and to weave a thread of continuity through the ﬁlm. The repetition of characters collapses time, to show that the past and present are bound together, and we are only a mere handful of lifetimes from our ancestors. Each era embodies similar tensions between freedom and authority, private and public purpose, duty and self-preservation, and many of these same tensions remain today. I believe that conceiving of history on one hand as a series of global events over hundreds of years, and at the same time see history as a series of daily events with all the small details in the lives of individuals instead of countries is a powerful way to retell and relate to history. In the Lion and the Mouse we have representations of people who were part of, and lived through major historical events, told within the context of the wide breadth of global politics and with the hindsight of the centuries that have past. Many people question the veracity of historical dramatizations, to that point I would like to include the following excerpt from a New York Times article, “Fade from TinType, Cue General Grant” by David Everitt. Documentary ﬁlmmakers may be discovering what historians have known for a long time.
“Historians blur the lines,” said Robert Tignor, chairman of Princeton University’s history department. “I think we’re all in the business of re-creating. That’s what history is. It’s a reconstruction of the past as viewed by specific individuals.”
I believe by imagining history in dramatizations, we can reach a greater truth, not an empirical truth but the truth of impact and relation, by creating a vision of history that is attached to our reality, a truth somewhere between fact and ﬁction. I include all of this in the ﬁlm with the hope that The Lion and the Mouse, can possibly provide a glimpse into history and its causes and effects for a present day audience who must wonder at some point what motivated history and how our present lives were created by the people and times that came before.
Lucinda Spurling, Producer, Director and Writer
Lucinda Spurling is a documentary writer, producer and director for Afflare Films Ltd. Her credits include, The Light that Followed (2000), St. David’s, An Island Near Bermuda (2004), Rare Bird (2006), and The Lion and the Mouse (2009) narrated by Michael Douglas. She has won several awards including a Documentary Commendation from The York film Festival for The Light That Followed, a Documentary commendation from the Bermuda Film Festival and The International Wildlife film festival for Rare Bird, the prestigious Special Jury Remi Award for Rare Bird from the Worldfest Houston Film Festival, and the Audience Award at the 2009 Bermuda Film Festival for The Lion and the Mouse. The Lion and the Mouse also received the Golden Reel Award at the Nevada Film Festival, the Award of Excellence at Indie Fest, and several local awards in Bermuda. Rare Bird is the story of the rediscovery of the cahow and of the life of David Wingate. The Lion and the Mouse, is a three episode miniseries about the 400 years of history between the island of Bermuda and USA made to celebrate Bermuda’s 400th anniversary. The Lion and the Mouse will be broadcast on PBS in 2010 and is distributed worldwide by Janson Media.