Of all the many documentaries that have been made about the Titanic disaster, this two-part, 192-minute film, produced in 1994 for the Arts & Entertainment network, remains the most thorough, authoritative, and fascinating chronicle of the Titanic tragedy.
Written, produced, and directed by Melissa Jo Peltier and elegantly narrated by actor David McCallum, the film utilizes thorough research, archival films and documents, and expert testimony to span the entire history of the legendary S.S. Titanic. From blueprint design and construction in Ireland, to the ill-fated maiden voyage and the lasting legacy of Titanic‘s fateful sinking, no detail has been neglected in the film’s meticulous description of events. Part 1, “The Death of a Dream,” builds dramatic momentum to the ship’s collision with an iceberg in the freezing North Atlantic, including detailed accounts of the agonizing two-hour sinking and the rescue of survivors. Part 2, “The Legend Lives On,” explores the investigation into Titanic‘s sinking, the impact on later ship design and the dramatic rediscovery of Titanic‘s ghostly remains on the ocean floor. Parts 1 and 2 include abundant interviews with such noted Titanic authorities as Don Lynch and Ken Marschall (consultants on the blockbuster movie Titanic), and several Titanic survivors who have since passed away.
The cumulative effect of this detailed film is a complete appreciation for the sheer irony, drama, and magnitude of the Titanic disaster. The James Cameron film was certainly entertaining, but this superior documentary proves that truth can be every bit as absorbing as fictionalized history. It’s an essential addition to any Titanic buff’s library.