History Revisited in Awe-Inspiring Detail
Score 10/10 - The Perfect Watch
Posted by Kevin Nickelson | April 10th, 2022
Within all of documented history, it is often the mystery behind the large scale tragedies such as natural disasters and mass murders that hold a bizarre, enduring interest amongst many in humanity that seems to span decades. Horrific events such as the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy in 79 A.D. and the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 intrigue scholars even to this day. Books, documentaries and films help keep these catastrophes from completely sinking into the abyss of our subconscious. Yet few hold the level of fascination attached to the incident that occurred in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912.
The Royal Mail Steamer Titanic, the largest ocean liner in service at the time, was four days into its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City, when it struck an iceberg and sank into the depths of the Atlantic, killing 1514 passengers and crew and leaving 710 survivors adrift in lifeboats for days prior to rescue. Now, on the 110-year anniversary of the ship’s destruction, Fox Alternative Entertainment and Streetcar Entertainment (along with producer David Wallach) present a meticulously detailed and researched documentary for Tubi streaming fans that delves into the why, where and, especially, how questions that remain swirling around this devastating night in history.
Few hold the level of fascination attached to the incident that occurred in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912.
Wallach, with executive producers Robert Twilley and Mike Welsh and writer Shelby Clip, goes beyond the rather stock use of talking head historians and subject experts b incorporating startling recreations of the luxury liner’s interiors, superb cgi reenactments of the destruction itself and interviews with descendants of Titanic survivors to bring the viewer to a depth of intimate connection that one does not ordinarily see in documentaries. The team’s research also sheds further light on the flaws of the vessel, failures of the captain and crew (such as the cancellation of the disaster drill just a few days before in favor of keeping church services going and the Captain’s disregard of advance reports of icebergs in the area from other ships) and the picture of overall hubris that cast a doomed pall over the voyage even before it happened.
It’s lifeboat system, for one, was designed to temporarily move passengers from one ship to another in the case of engine malfunction or other smaller-scale issue. It was not designed to carry the full load of passengers on this grand level nightmare. This special fleshes out in greater detail some of the crisis the Titanic incurred even in the days leading up to the launch. A fire had begun ten days before that engulfed some of the coal storage bins in the bowels of the liner. This forced crew to manually move the unaffected bins out of harm’s way and prevent a greater explosion.
Wallach and company take the subject of the Titanic to areas far beyond the ordinary documentary by examining both race and class issues that came to the fore during the maritime accident. Exploring how, during the lifeboat evacuations, the wealthiest passengers were given preferential treatment while those on the lower third class (including the few ethnic minorities who could afford to sail) were either left to die in many instances or survived in spite of, rather than because of, heroism or good fortune.
Credit to Marissa Hyder’s visual effects and motion designer Jacob Jackson for the amazing recreations of how the ornate the interiors of the Titanic would’ve looked before the sinking and the images of it splitting into two as it descended into the Atlantic’s murky depths. It is also astutely pointed out that there remains a fast approaching deadline to retrieve all that is retrievable from the Titanic even today.
An interview with author, producer and photographer Paul Amirault helps to explain that the wreckage of the Titanic is disintegrating and becoming part of the ocean itself, lending an urgency to recover all that we can to preserve its history and remember those who died on that night 110 years ago and the struggle of the valiant survivors.
The special premiered on Tubi April 8th and continues to run on that streaming service. For a fascinating look back at one of the bloodiest times in maritime history, this is well worth viewing.