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Blu-ray Review
Blu-ray Disc review by Barrie Maxwell of The Digital Bits

Titanic: The Miniseries (Blu-ray Disc)

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Titanic: The Miniseries
2012 (2012) - ITV Global Entertainment/Sienna Films/Mid-Atlantic Films (Entertainment One)
Released on Blu-ray Disc on April 24th, 2012
Also available on DVD


Film Rating: A
Video (1-20): 17
Audio (1-20): 17
Extras: A

Titanic: The Miniseries is a joint U.K./Canada/Hungary 2012 production that debuted on Canada's Global TV network and ITV in the U.K. in March, is airing on ABC in the U.S. at present, and will see its Blu-ray release appear before the end of April from Entertainment One. It presents a fascinating look at the RMS Titanic disaster from the viewpoint of Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes.

The 187-minute four-part series (all on the first disc of the Blu-ray release) offers a somewhat unique approach in terms of both dramatic structure and character focus. Fellowes' preoccupation with British class structure as reflected in the range of passengers on the ship in first- and second-class accommodation as well among the officers and crew is at the root of this approach. We follow perhaps a dozen examples of this in some detail with events involving some specific characters being viewed from the viewpoints of both the characters themselves as well as the vantage points of several other characters whose lives cross them in time and space. Rather than a simple linear recounting of Titanic's demise, key events are replayed as a result from episode to episode revealing new information about characters' motivations and actions. It all makes for a very complex picture that requires close attention throughout to both what is going on and to the massive cast that employs a wealth of superb mainly British actors that are not all the usual suspects in high-profile series such as this one. Paying that attention throughout the series's four approximately 45-minute episodes is very amply rewarded.

Beyond Fellowes's obvious contribution, the massive production is expertly juggled by director Jon Jones and just some of the talented cast members include Peter McDonald, Steven Waddington, Ruth Bradley, Glen Blackhall, Jenna-Louise Coleman, Perdida Weeks, James Wilby, Linus Roache, Toby Jones, Miles Richardson, Dragos Bucur, and Celia Imrie.

The 1.78:1 Blu-ray image from Entertainment One makes it a pleasure to immerse ourselves in Fellowes's Titanic world. It highlights the massive efforts that have gone into costume design and set decoration with a sharp, beautifully detailed image that offers a surprisingly dimensional experience. Colour fidelity is very good throughout in terms of objects and skin tones and colours have an accurate range of vibrancy that reflect the class status of people and objects as obviously intended by the film makers.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix provides an equally effective sonic mix. Dialogue is clear and well balanced with the other audio components (music and sound effects) throughout. There is some notably effective use of the surrounds to fix the atmospheric of the early life aboard ship as well as convey the chaos of the ship's sinking. The latter conveys no sonic overdose la James Cameron's Titanic, but is still effective nonetheless. English SDH subtitling is provided.

Supplements (all on the second Blu-ray disc) include a behind-the-production featurette and six making-of features (some repetition between these various offerings) as well as informative audio commentary on Episode One by Julian Fellowes, producer Nigel Stafford-Clark, and director Jon Jones. There is also a fascinating documentary The Curse of the Titanic Sisters that details the doomed history and flawed designs of the Titanic, the Olympic, and the Britannic.

2012's Titanic: The Miniseries takes its place alongside the impressive feature film productions of 1958's A Night to Remember and 1997's Titanic as the go-to ways to relive at least cinematically the Titanic experience - all excellent and all different from each other. Titanic: The Miniseries on Blu-ray is highly recommended!

Barrie Maxwell
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