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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Blu-Ray/DVD Review: Raise The Titanic

Raise The Titanic is an adventure film about a project to bring the Titanic up in order to retrieve a rare mineral from its cargo hold, a mineral needed to create a secret defense system for the United States government.

Raise The Titanic opens with a series of black and white still images of the Titanic in port, and images of the interior and folks on the boat. Though these are stills, the camera moves across them. Then we see the boat at the bottom of the ocean. It’s actually a great opening, for the last of the stills is a large group of people dancing and enjoying themselves, and it leads directly to a dark image of the boat on the ocean floor.

A body is discovered in a mine in the Arctic Circle while on a search for that rare mineral, a grave marker identifying him as a soldier who froze in a storm in February of 1912. The mine was stripped of the mineral they need as a power source for some kind of beam that missiles won’t be able to penetrate. The team behind this defense project is able to learn that the mineral was hidden in a cargo hold of the Titanic. And because divers can’t go down that deep, the plan is to raise the ship.

Yes, it’s kind of a crazy idea, but the film has a great cast, which keeps things from becoming too silly. In addition to lead performances by Jason Robards, Richard Jordan and David Selby, there are wonderful supporting performances by Alec Guinness (as a survivor of the Titanic, who provides important information about which cargo hold contains what they’re looking for), M. Emmet Walsh (as one of the team searching for the ship), and Anne Archer (as a reporter and boyfriend to Gene Seagram, played by David Selby). Also, the film takes itself seriously, which helps us to do the same.

Though the project starts off as secret, some information is leaked, which helps give the film a realistic feel. Though it does seem a bit of coincidence that Anne Archer’s character is the one to break the story, at least the characters acknowledge that it’s an odd coincidence. But the stuff like the press conference is done well and is believable.

This is a film that takes its time with the search operation, and that’s a good thing. It allows us to get caught up in it so that when they do find the ship, we’re just as excited (and relieved) as the characters. It really becomes about the process, and the dangers, of the operation rather than about the goal, the obtaining of the rare mineral.

When watching, keep in mind that this film was released in 1980, five years before the real Titanic was found. So, while they actually got a lot of things right, there are some key differences, particularly that the ship in this film is not in two major pieces.

By the way, whoever wrote the film’s description on the back of the DVD case should be flogged, for he or she gave away a key piece of information regarding a late plot point. So if you haven’t seen the film, don’t read the box.

Special Features

The DVD includes “A Look At The Making Of Raise The Titanic.” This is actually a really good making-of feature, because it focuses on one aspect of the filmmaking process – the underwater sequences. It features interviews with director of photography Matthew F. Leonetti, model unit director Ricou Browning, model and mechanical effects supervisor John Richardson, and underwater camera operator Mike Ferris. The information about shooting in the tank thirty feet down is fascinating. This feature is approximately twenty-three minutes.

The DVD also includes the film’s trailer.

Raise The Titanic is scheduled to be released as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack on January 21, 2014 through Shout! Factory.

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