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New Video presents
Titanic's Final Moments: Missing Pieces (2006)

"It is bilge keel."
- Narrator (Edward Herrman)

Review By: Jeff Wilson   
Published: June 08, 2006

Director: Kirk Wolfinger

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:30m:12s
Release Date: May 30, 2006
UPC: 733961751864
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-B-B- B

DVD Review

This latest exercise in Titanic studies appears to be a specifically made-for-TV expedition. A group of explorers and other specialists and even one lawyer/Titanic "enthusiast" (which I assume means: rich guy) are travelling to the wreck to try and glean further evidence for a theory of the ship's sinking that argues a slightly different scenario, called the "grounding theory." This posits that the ship did not just sideswipe the fatal iceberg, but also ran over it, causing significant damage on the bottom of the ship. The enthusiast, having been on a previous trip to see the ship (you, too, can see Titanic, if you can pony up the dough), wants to go back to an area he had seen on a previous dive to locate what he thought were sections of the ship's bottom, which would help support this theory.

Intercut with the exploits of this group is yet another re-hash of the history of the ship and its sinking, which includes the now obligatory interviews with survivors and relatives of survivors, experts, and other related personages. Frankly, I can't imagine too many people watching who don't know the story of Titanic, and if they don't, there are already plenty of books and documentaries out there to educate them. At this point in the Titanic game, it simply feels like padding to fill out a two-hour block on the network. These documentaries, at least the ones on Titanic, all seem vaguely reminiscent of one another. We get the talking heads involved in the expedition, footage of the subs being lowered in the water, reminders of how deep and dangerous these dives are/can be, and then the usual Titanic footage, which has admittedly gotten better over the years since the wreck was found. There's always that first, still shiver-inducing shot of the stern when Titanic is reached, and so on.

We even get that dramatic wrench thrown into things, when the weather limits the number of dives and the first dive comes up empty-handed. Will they find what they're looking for? Well, if you read the DVD case copy, you know the answer. After the big discovery of the bottom sections (of which a portion is pictured on the box art), the story moves to land, where our team of experts chew over the new discoveries and argue amongst themselves as to what it means for the grounding theory. Naval architect Roger Long presents his view of the sinking, based on his own conclusions, and no real rebuttal is offered, giving the impression that this is largely accepted by everyone. A two-minute search on Google indicates that there are those who strongly disagree, however, but this brings up another point about all these Titanic specials: does it matter?

These expeditions and specials will no doubt continue to float onto our screens, as long as they get decent ratings, and I have no problem with that, as it's the nature of the system. But in the end, none of this changes the fact that the ship hit an iceberg and sank, killing over 1500 people. Arguing over the facts of its sinking comes across (to me at least) as something akin to Star Trek geeks arguing over the arcana of a given episode. Since Titanic is two miles below the surface, slowly rotting away, and half buried in the ocean floor, it looks...well, a bit more certain we'll never know the exact details of what happened that night. As such, unless you're a real Titanic freak—and judging by the web results I got, there are plenty—documentaries like this just don't have that much to add to the story. And I say that as someone who has been fascinated with disasters of sea and air (how about some dirigible documentaries? Anyone?) since childhood. I found this enjoyable for the new Titanic footage, but, otherwise, this will best serve the needs of the Titanic junkies who need another hit.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: For whatever reason, while this is presented in widescreen, the DVD has not been anamorphically enhanced. The quality of the image varies, with many of the undersea shots looking overly noisy. For the most part though, this is a pleasant, clean image.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: This is a standard television soundtrack, with little material to push the soundtrack, as it's pretty much all speaking.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Seeking to provide more sinkings for your shekels, the folks at History Channel have thrown in an episode of their History's Mysteries series (42m:33s) looking at Titanic's sister ships, Brittanic and Olympic. Brittanic met an unpleasant fate like Titanic, and the program looks at the histories of the ships. PBS' excellent Nova series did an episode on Brittanic in 1997, which is worth seeking out for those interested. This History Channel series is servicable, covering all three ships, and looking into the circumstances of Brittanic's sinking during World War I. Some decent footage of the wreck is featured.

A very brief (04m:56s) behind-the-scenes featurette appears to be the sort of thing that was run on the network between shows to hype the upcoming broadcast. It doesn't shed a whole lot of light on anything, and really isn't worth watching if you've already seen the main program.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

These Titanic documentaries are starting to have a "been there done that" feel to them. This one, which promises major new developments, does locate some new chunks of the wrecked ship, but no definitive answers are reached (and they likely never will be), just more theories and arguments. Another history of Titanic pads the show with material any Titanic follower will already be familiar with. The DVD is unexceptional, with a letterboxed 4:3 picture. Decent extras round out the package.


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