Ric Burns, The Real Story of the Pilgrims

Published on23 NOV 2015

The story of the Pilgrims is far more fascinating and complex than familiar textbook accounts, as acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ric Burns reveals in The Pilgrims. The film chronicles the experiences of the English settlers whose radicalism and extraordinary determination drove them to Plymouth Rock, and their role in establishing the spiritual and political consciousness of the modern United States.

On history’s recollection of the Pilgrim story: "The Pilgrims stand, in the American mind, for our myth of origin – the earliest moment when we think we were European Americans…[but] in some respects…it is quite wrong. We think of them as instant Americans because they seemed to have qualities which we like to think we, as Americans, have…we think of them as having come for freedom. The story is much more complicated than that. They went through such hardship. They persevered with the help of God, but we allow them to be instant Americans right away and forget [the journey]."

On memory and history: "This is the story of how the Pilgrims are so much more about the story of memory and how historical memory is constructed through bits and pieces of the actual past."

Explore More Insights