Judge Patrick Naugle has a serious case of Billy Zane envy.
The legend of the "unsinkable" floating palace.
Hosted by Mark Lindsay Chapman (not the guy who killed John Lennon, but the actor who played Chief Officer Henry Wilde in James Cameron's film), Titanic: 100 Years On offers a glimpse at the mammoth ship's maiden voyage and eventual doom in the icy depths of the ocean. Archival footage alongside interviews with experts, filmmakers, and scholars provide a look into one of the largest disasters of the 20th century.
There is little to be said about the Titanic disaster that hasn't already been said dozens of times over. The tragedy has been combed over by scholars, scientists, filmmakers, and laymen the world over. It's a cautionary tale about man's hubris, cowardice, and heroism, a captivating disaster that makes me glad I live on dry land. Titanic: 100 Years On tries hard to offer up a comprehensive documentary, but comes up short…literally. Clocking in at just a single hour, the program skims over a lot of information to get to the ship's final moments at sea.
This is a Titanic documentary for people with ADHD. It moves so fast and covers so much ground we're left breathless, and not in a good way. Worse, there is nothing I learned in this documentary I did not already know about the Titanic and its voyage. Well, that's not entirely true. I discovered the piece of ornate wood that Rose floats on at the end of James Cameron's Titanic was a replica of an actual piece of wood from the original ship. So, I guess I did learn something, but it wasn't anything of true consequence.
Oddly, the footage used in Titanic: 100 Years On appears to have been lifted from ten dozen different sources, all of varying quality. Cameron's film, Roy Baker's 1958 classic A Night to Remember, and other Hollywood films appear to be used often as reference, although the scenes shown are silent with narration placed over them. Some of the footage is looped, showing up multiple times and often out of context. For example, a scene where Billy Zane's character fires a gun at Jack and Rose has nothing to do with what the narrator is discussing; it's just there because, I don't know. The filmmakers were glad to have the footage in their possession?
Even stranger are the film's musical choices. Madonna's "Vouge" and a Coldplay song both show up to underscore specific moments, but why? Neither have anything to do with the Titanic disaster and, frankly, feel very out of place. For a small, inconsequential film on this mega disaster, I was impressed the filmmakers were able to get permission to use so many elements/songs/film clips. It's just a shame they weren't put to better use.
Presented in standard definition 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the image is wildly uneven; at times there are photos from the disaster that appear crystal clear, then the film switches to footage from Hollywood's fictional accounts that look stretched and warped. It's odd the filmmakers would put so much effort into telling their tale, but no effort in ensuring the image looks consistent and clean. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix is serviceable, but little else. It's a front heavy mix that features a few oddly placed surround moments, often jarring because they come out of nowhere. There are no bonus features.
Titanic: 100 Years On is hard to recommend, simply because it feels like a slapdash effort bursting at the seams with material and crammed into a sixty minute box. Only worth seeking out if you're a Titanic fanatic (Tifanic? Fantanic?). Otherwise, seek out the multitude of better films on this real life legend.
For diehard fans only.
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