Raise The Titanic Is Unsinkable In Its New Re-Issue

Courtesy: itv Studios/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: itv Studios/Shout! Factory

The sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic is one of the most talked about tragedies in the history of transportation.  The ship, said to be unsinkable, went down on its maiden voyage in 1912.  Over a century after that doomed cruise, that tragic event remains at the forefront of so many people’s minds.  That is thanks in large part to the countless documentaries and movies that have been churned out by movie studios and television networks over the past half century, the least of which being 1997’s story of a doomed romance, Titanic.  Thankfully there have been more enjoyable stories such as the famous The Band Played On and the 1980 drama that was Raise The Titanic.  Now twenty-four years after that movie debuted, it has been resurrected for the masses by itv Studios and Shout! Factory.  The movie, based on author Clive Cussler’s novel by the same name, uses the Cold War as a backdrop for its plot.  It’s just part of the writing that makes this movie worth watching at least once.  The movie’s script is just part of what makes Raise The Titanic worth at least one watch.  The movie’s soundtrack is another important aspect of the overall presentation.  John Williams’ score captures and creates so much emotion throughout the story.  And the special effects used throughout the movie are minimalist at best.  It actually makes the movie that much better.  It’s discussed in the bonus “Making of” featurette that’s included in this re-issue.  Each of the noted factors plays a role in the success of Raise The Titanic especially now in its new life.  Together, they make this a movie that any classic movie buff will want to check out at least once.

The first aspect of Raise The Titanic that audiences will agree to be a positive is the movie’s script.  Theories about what led to the Titanic’s sinking and how to potentially raise the ship have run rampant for ages.  However author Clive Cussler’s book based on those theories was the first of its kind to gain major success.  The same can be said of the final product crafted by screenwriter Adam Kennedy and his writing partner Eric Hughes.  To that extent, it can be argued that both the book and the script that it spawned were both quite original in their own right.  In hindsight, it’s interesting to see how prophetic this story turned out to be, even if it did change some things from Cussler’s original book.  Not that many years ago, the Costa Concordia wrecked off the Italian coast.  It sat there until recently when means were undertaken to lift the half-sunken ship and get it away from its crash site.  In the same way that many of the theories on how to raise the Titanic were deemed impossible (among other words), the method ultimately used to raise the Costa Concordia seemed impossible until one of those theories worked.  Having seen the Costa Concordia raised from its wreck site, one can’t help but wonder if it could be the foundation of a way to raise other ships as impossible as it might seem.

Raise The Titanic’s script is an important piece of the whole that is the movie’s success.  Just as important to the movie’s overal enjoyment is its music.  Legendary composer and maestro John Williams created a score for the movie that captures and creates so much emotion.  Nowhere is this truer than the scene in which the Titanic finally breaks the surface of the North Atlantic waters.  The moments as it makes its way into New York’s harbor are just as emotional, musically speaking.  Williams more than exhibits his ability to interpret any scene with these moments alone.  They are but a pair of moments that show how important the movie’s score is to the whole presentation.  There are far more moments throughout the movie’s near two-hour run time that exhibit just as much of Williams’ talent and that of the musicians that bring the movie’s soundtrack to life.  Audiences will find their own favorite moments when they buy or order the movie’s new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack re-issue from Shout! Factory.

The script and the soundtrack of Raise The Titanic both play pivotal roles in the movie’s success.  There is one more aspect of this movie that could be argued to trump those previously noted aspects.  That aspect is the movie’s special effects.  Watching this movie, one can’t help but make a quick comparison to the likes of The Hunt for Red October, Crimson Tide, and to a lesser degree, The Abyss.  The latter of that trio is perhaps the closest comparison.  The difference is that where James Cameron went completely overboard with his special effects, Raise The Titanic used minimalist special effects for even its biggest scene.  A couple prime examples of this less-is-more approach are the subs used to find the Titanic and the ship itself.  It turns out that the subs used in the movie were actually r/c subs.  The mock-up of the Titanic, it turns out, was actually a fifty-five foot “model” that weighed roughly ten tons.  And the methods used to raise the ship were just as interesting.  That minimalist approach to its special effects actually made the movie even more enjoyable because it forced its writers to focus on story development.  The end result was a movie that is just as rich in its special effects as it is in its story.  It makes Raise The Titanic a movie worth at least one watch by anyone that has never seen it before.

The special effects used throughout Raise The Titanic played a big role in the movie’s success thanks to the less-is-more approach taken by those behind the special effects.   There is much more worth noting, including the in-depth commentary on the movie shared in its bonus “Making of” featurette.  The commentary includes a rather damning statement regarding the over use of special effects in today’s major motion pictures.  The statement in question is made by one of the individuals that helped bring the movie’s special effects to life.  Fans can check out this statement and more when they purchase or order the movie now from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/218884.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Titanic at 100 adds another chapter to the history of the Titanic

The sinking of the Titanic is arguably one of the most talked about tragedies in transportation and nautical history.  Even just over a century later, there are still conflicting views on what really happened, and who’s to blame.  Earlier this year, History Channel released what is one of the most interesting discussions to date on the tragedy in “Titanic:  The Complete Story.”  Now, the network has released another documentary centered on the great ship’s doomed voyage in “Titanic at 100:  Mystery Solved.”

“Titanic at 100:  Mystery Solved” is a wonderful companion piece to History Channel’s previous documentary.  That documentary was released March 13th of this year.  What makes this most recent documentary the great companion to the prior is that it provides a different viewpoint of what exactly did or didn’t happen to the doomed vessel.  “Titanic at 100:  Mystery Solved” argues that the belief that the ship’s lack of structural integrity was to blame for its sinking was wrong.  One way that it supports its argument is by testing rivets made from hundred year old metal.  The theory in question being tested was that when the Titanic scraped against the iceberg that ripped it open, rivets on the ship had actually come loose from the hull, thus allowing the iceberg to basically “unzip” the hull.  In turn, that “unzipping” allowed the cold North Atlantic waters to flood into boiler room six.  The test results show that perhaps the rivets had not come undone after all.

Testing the rivet theory was only one part of the investigation by the team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  After the Titanic was ripped open, the ship’s front half went into the water.  This is where this documentary takes a different turn.  The research team in this documentary argues that when the ship broke, the front half of the ship actually hung onto the back end for a moment before breaking off and sinking.  This would tie in to the argument made by the 2005 History Channel expedition to the Titanic.  That crew’s expedition led to the conclusion that a poorly constructed expansion joint led to the ship’s demise.  But according to this documentary, if the ship had actually stayed connected even for a moment, then the expansion joint could not have been the culprit in the ship breaking.  It doesn’t come right out and say that.  But it does seem to intimate that argument by making mention of the ship at least temporarily staying together before sinking.  The documentary does make a brief mention of the expansion joint in the team’s research.  It also makes mention of the pieces of the ship’s bottom discovered in the ’05 expedition.  It ties that discovery in to its argument, claiming that those pieces are what held the ship together before it sank in two pieces.  The prior documentary, though, used those same pieces to argue that the expansion joint was at fault. 

Having tested and debunked the rivet theory as a cause for the Titanic’s sinking, the research team had to find another way to support its argument about the ship’s integrity.  It did this by becoming the first research team to ever completely map out the debris field.  It wasn’t an easy journey for the team.  In the process of mapping everything, the team had to abort its voyage at least for a day because of a hurricane.  It nearly even lost a highly important piece of equipment trying to outrun the hurricane.  That piece of equipment was a camera that had gotten tangled in the ship’s remains.  The team does manage to get the entire wreck site mapped out, including the long lost middle section.  That middle section was right around where the expansion joint was, thus the reference to the previous expedition.  According to the researchers, when they realized the missing piece they had found was mostly still in tact, that was fodder in the argument against the ship cataclysmically breaking apart.  Having gathered all of this information, the team uses a virtual set to “reconstruct” the Titanic to try and find out what they believe to have been the cause of the Titanic’s final hours.  That, combined with the extensive mapping of the wreckage site will keep audiences enthralled throughout the documentary’s presentation.

Whether or not the team is correct in its assumptions as to what might have happened that fateful night, audiences will love the discussions created via this presentation.  It’s a wonderful companion piece to “Titanic:  the Complete Story” in that it presents a different view of what happened.  It even includes more stories of the passengers on board, including an alleged affair between two of the passengers.  One of the people involved in the creation of the famed Coney Island Witching Waves ride was on board, too.  These small tidbits of information are the extra spice that make “Titanic at 100” such an interesting watch.  Whether one has a special interest in all things transportation or nautical, or is simply a history buff in general, “Titanic at 100:  Mystery Solved” is one more example of what makes History Channel’s documentary programming some of the best on television.  It’s great both for the average viewer and for the classroom.  And while countless documentaries are released each year surrounding the doomed ship, this is one documentary that manages to stand on its own merits both by itself and with its companion documentary, “Titanic:  The Complete Story.”  Put together, the two documentaries give an even more complete story, making for an even more enthralling look back into history.

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