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Expedition: Bismarck (2002)

TV Movie  |   |  Documentary  |  8 December 2002 (USA)
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It was WWII's most fearsome ship. A ship so powerful, it sank the pride of the British fleet with a single salvo. Hearing the news, Winston Churchill saw no choice. He sent nearly the ... See full summary »

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Title: Expedition: Bismarck (TV Movie 2002)

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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Narrator (voice)
Karl Kuhn ...
Himself - Bismarck Survivor
Heinz Steeg ...
Walter Weintz ...
Himself - Bismarck Survivor
Holger Herwig ...
Himself - Bismarck Historian (as Dr. Holger Herwig)
Adrian Paul DeGroot ...
Himself - ROV Technician (as Adrian Degroot)
David J. Bercuson ...
Himself - Bismarck Historian (as Dr. David Bercuson)
Genya Chernaiev ...
Himself - MIR 2 Pilot (as Genya Cherniaev)
Lori Johnston ...
Herself - Expedition Scientist
Curt Lowens ...
Walter Weintz (voice)
Karl Kuhn (voice)
Kai Wulff ...
Heinz Steeg - Bismarck Survivor (voice)
Blake Sutton ...
Young Walter Weintz


It was WWII's most fearsome ship. A ship so powerful, it sank the pride of the British fleet with a single salvo. Hearing the news, Winston Churchill saw no choice. He sent nearly the entire Royal Navy to hunt and destroy the Bismarck. But what really happened to this German legend? Was she sunk? Or was she scuttled? Now Titanic director James Cameron returns to the high seas to tell the tale and search for the truth. Leading a team of explorers, historians and Bismarck survivors, Cameron examines the wreck three miles down and discovers the answers that may finally end the debate. With revolutionary production techniques and high-tech Remotely Operated Vehicles, Cameron lights up this dark world and gives us the first glimpse inside the Bismarck in more than 60 years. Stunning high-definition footage shows underwater images with cinematic clarity. And cutting-edge animation and ultra-realistic reenactments bring the survivors' stories to life. Join the expedition and relive the ... Written by Unlucky Man666

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

world war two | sea battle | See All (2) »




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Release Date:

8 December 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

James Cameron's Expedition: Bismarck  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The recreations of the Bismarck were filmed aboard the USS North Carolina, a decommissioned World War II battleship. The ship now serves as a museum in Wilmington, North Carolina. See more »


Referenced in Capturing Avatar (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Its seems to me that JC didn't have adequate naval /maritime support
21 May 2004 | by (California) – See all my reviews

As I watched this broadcast, I was surprised to see certain representations of damage and their explanations. I was also quite surprised that there was not adequate 'expert' witness present during the commentary. I am not a naval expert, but I do study these things, and consider wreck sites with a physics perspective. If I could come to an understanding of certain basic items, I expect that the on-site experts could as well. That the commentary shows otherwise leaves me questioning just who was where with what knowledge.

A few points as examples: The tower, with the admiral's bridge, foretop director station, etc.. JC suggests in the film that the tower landed on the bottom upright, and was pushed over as the hull moved against it after impact. His graphics even show this. I can not accept that explanation. Considering that the entire tower broke away as the ship sank, most likely during the righting of the hull after leaving the surface, and that the tower at that time was extremely TOP-heavy, it's quite apparent that it plummeted to the bottom much like an arrow. The very heavy armored foretop station (a thick box of armor plate dominating the upper levels of the tower) would have lead the way down (tower upside down), with the relatively long body section acting as the arrow's shaft. It would have plunged into the bottom sediment top-first. The hull did not knock it over from an upright position.

When JC's crew came across a hull section of the bilge broken away, they puzzled over just what it could be. It was obvious to myself and others that red antifouling paint, and a sharp near-90-degree bend in such a below waterline structure could only be the turn of the bilge. The uniform shape of the plating on either side of the turn, extending in both directions marks this wreckage even further as being the bilge turn near the center of the ship. No other shape could fit that area. To their credit, later in the documentary, they described this. What stood out to me was that no expedition member readily recognized this at the time of discovery.

The views of the stern underside show a rudder jammed into a propeller. JC stated that the torpedo hit must have jammed the rudder over to this point. This can't be. The propeller, in that shot, was truly fouled. However, the survivor's testimony states that efforts were made at steering the ship with engines only. There was no mention of a jammed shaft. Ballard's initial study, matched with eyewitness records show that Bismarck sank by the stern. This is because the ship's sea intakes and engine room water passages were blown open. The rear of the ship settled first from the flooding. As the ship dove to the bottom, it likely went down stern first as well, since the flooding in this area was more complete. Bismarck's stern quite well could have hit bottom first, jamming the rudders hard over. The rudder could not have been pushed so hard as to bend the rudder shaft so far that it hit the propeller from a mere torpedo hit. The weight of the ship, through an angular impact would certainly be able to accomplish this, however.

JC also states that the hull bent as it hit the bottom, like a shoe as the owner moves through a step. He says that this is what caused the bottom sides to blow out, assisted by hydraulic blowout. I can't see how this would be. His graphic representation is quite extreme. In order for the ship to bend as he shows, the very structure of the bottom would have to fail. You simply can not expect a warship to bend like that an not, a) compress the upper decks accordion style, and b) stretch the lower decks and double bottom to the point where they split. Bismarck sits intact (largely) and inline. No indications of hull warpage have been reported. Lastly, in order for this ship to bend like the banana move in the computer recreation, a large number of the huge armor plates on either side would have to be dislocated and /or removed. There is no way to bend 12' armor plate of that type against its plane! Warping it through the surface for hull fitting is one thing. Bending it along the thin edge several meters thick is impossible! You can watch and see that there are NO loose armor plates (only lower hull plates BELOW the armor line), and not even an open seem between the plates. The plates themselves could not be expected to work back into position and not leave evidence of having moved. Also, the inner torpedo bulkheads, which were so obligingly exposed, would have to bend as well (along with every other vertical longitudinal structure amidships). They did not. And if they had, they would never return to form since they were designed to flex and bend under stress in order to contain the torpedo blast, the following waterhammer jet, and still keep the citadel dry. The hydraulic blowout theory seems best, especially when you consider that German welding of the period was not the best. Reference the clean break in the tower base, the stern separation and the clean breaks at every point where lower hull sections are missing. Each break is at a weld joint.

Of all the points raised and issues taken during this film, I was most pleased with the study of the inner torpedo defense. It has been my contention that the torpedos were NOT the cause of her sinking. The large hole in the deck, next to the catapult, seems to me to be a torpedo hit, as the ship was rolling onto her side. The torps arrived too late.

The saving grace of this film is the quality of the video. One can draw his own conclusions from the clear images presented therein.

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