NOTE: Current Product Information lists the run time on this DVD as 94 minutes. That is incorrect, it is 45 minutes. If it has already been corrected by the time you read this, please disregard.
Our fascination with the tragedy of the Titanic has never waned. In April, it was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of this "unsinkable" giant on its maiden voyage. There has, through the years, been so much material presented about the disaster through various media outlets. Enthusiasts and casual historians with an interest in the topic have likely snapped up some of the higher profile pieces related to that fateful night. With that said, don't be surprised if "Titanic: 100 Years in 3-D" feels very similar to other specials you may have seen. I was excited to check out this new presentation, largely for the promise of 3-D. The distinctive selling point of this 45 minute short is the inclusion of underwater footage of the wreckage shot in a revolutionary new 3-D HD technique in 2010 by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in conjunction with RMS Titanic, Inc. But as I started to look at footage I had assumed was new to the DVD, I realized that I had seen the same material at a public exhibit about the Titanic AND in other History specials. It's still impressive in detail and access, I just hadn't expected that I would already have experienced it.
3-D: This is really not a full scale 3-D presentation that you might be anticipating. While the third dimension is utilized occasionally on graphics and computer recreations, it is mostly employed in a very natural form to present the underwater sequences that get up close to the wreckage. As I mentioned, these moments have great clarity and surprising beauty. And as the 3-D camera caresses the Titanic, it's as close and personal as you're likely to get to this bit of history. So if you're looking for big out-of-screen moments, this is NOT that feature.
Story: The tale of the Titanic is pieced together by contemporary expert interviews, recreated dialogue from survivors, and rather rudimentary animation. The presentation alternates back and forth between the history lesson and the close-up look at today's Titanic. I'm not sure you'll learn anything new, but it's a lively enough discussion. The narrators build a fair amount of tension as they relate events significant to the story. And while it doesn't get too in depth (it's only 45 minutes), it's still an entertaining film that might be great as an introduction to younger viewers. Near the end, an expert on artifacts explains what can be learned about the passengers from the debris recovered from the sinking. It's interesting enough, I suppose, but not as compelling as what precedes it.
Maybe "Titanic: 100 Years in 3-D" isn't exactly revelatory, but I certainly enjoyed it. I recommend it to Titanic enthusiasts for the intimate underwater images that look absolutely spectacular on this Blu-ray. KGHarris, 8/12.