Saturday, September 24, 2011

Titanic: How It Really Sank (2009)

Take a very heavy anchor. To it, securely fasten every known copy of James Cameron's Titanic. Dump said anchor in the very deepest depths of the coldest, darkest ocean. Ignore for generations.

With that done, sit down with a much better, and far shorter, exploration of the Titanic's sinking in April 1912. More than 1,500 died.

This National Geographic documentary is much better, and far shorter, than Cameron's comic book film. The running time is listed as 50 minutes, but action ends at the 45-minute marker. The rushed last minute is a bit odd, but that's a minor complaint.

How It Really Sank is billed as a drama/documentary. It's an approach that left me a little uneasy at the program's start, but works well.

The documentary offers plenty of contributing factors, I counted nine, that resulted in the great ship's sinking during its maiden voyage.

Some, such as the choice of raw material for the ship's rivets, may already be known. Others, such as the actions of the Titanic's wireless operator in the hours leading up to its demise and the unexpected distance traveled by the iceberg the ship hit, may surprise.

Actors recreate testimony from an inquiry that followed the devestating maritime tragedy. There's also interviews with a forensic metallurgist, oceanographer, White Star Line historian and Millvina Dean, at the time, Titanic's last surviving passenger.

An interesting photo gallery includes about a half-dozen shots of the Titanic on the bottom of the ocean floor near Newfoundland.

RATING: 9/10

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