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The Spin Sheet

DVD review by Barrie Maxwell of The Digital Bits

Titanic: The Complete Story (DVD)

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Titanic: The Complete Story
1994-2007 (2012) - History Channel (A&E Video)
Released on DVD on March 13th, 2012

Dolby Digital

Program Rating: B (collective average for the 2 films)
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/C-

On behalf of the History Channel, A&E dusts off a DVD release - Titanic: The Complete Story - that first arrived about 10 years ago at the time of the Titanic's 90th anniversary and with some modification makes it available again for the 100th anniversary. It's a two-disc set that presents two documentaries.

The first one, a 1994 production consigned to the first disc, consists of two parts each about 95 minutes long. It's narrated by David McCallum who had a part in the 1958 British feature film on the tragedy, A Night to Remember. Would that the documentary consistently had the interest level of that film. Its first part - Death of a Dream - focuses too much on characters and sometimes not well-explored events and it seems to take forever to get to the actual occurrence of the sinking. The second part - The Legend Lives On - is much better though. The coverage of senate hearings into the ship's demise, comments from survivors, and subsequent footage of the search for and successful discovery of the wreckage hold genuine appeal.

The set's second disc substitutes the original DVD's 2002 documentary Beyond Titanic with 2007's Titanic's Achilles Heel. This more recent production examines the theory that the Titanic may have had a fatal design flaw, and does so effectively using a blend of archival documents and photographs, advanced CGI technology, interviews, and underwater wreckage expeditionary footage. Overall, I found this second documentary the best part of the package.

The 1994 two-part documentary is presented full frame as originally aired. Although a little murky at times, it is presentable for the most part and even offers reasonably bold colour on occasion. The newer 2007 documentary is given a 1.78:1 widescreen but non-anamorphic presentation. The impact is reasonably positive nonetheless with a fairly bright image that offers fairly good colour fidelity. Both programs have Dolby Digital stereo tracks that at least offer clear dialogue that is well balanced between the background music and occasional sound effects.

The only item in the way of a supplement occurs on the first disc in the form of a timeline that offers information as one clicks on specific dates.

While Titanic: The Complete Story underwhelms at times, there is still a lot of good information that is well-enough presented to make it worth a rental at least. There's not quite enough incentive to upgrade from the previous DVD release if you have it, as only one third of the content is new.

Barrie Maxwell

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