It will be hard for some viewers to look past assumptions that this is a documentary made by a Hollywood director trying to cash in on the success of Titanic by making documentaries like Expeidition: Bismarck, Ghosts of the Abyss, and Aliens of the Deep, but from his past as the director of Titanic and Thhe Abyss, I think it becomes genuinely clear that he just has a true, child-like fascination with the unreachable depths of the ocean, and he has achieved a level of success that allows him financially to travel miles down into the deep and show us parts of the world that no human being has ever seen before and may otherwise never have seen at all.
Granted, I understand that Cameron is not solely responsible for our ventures to the bottom of the ocean, but his efforts have given us images and memories and knowledge about the wreck of the Bismarck, one of the most controversial shipwrecks of World War II, and has made a tremendous contribution to science and to history.
This documentary goes into astonishing detail about the political climate of the world at the time the Bismarck was built by Nazi Germany and the jaw-dropping statistics that she boasted, both physically, from her deck guns at over 100 feet long able to fire thousand pound pieces of metal thousands of yards with frightening accuracy, to the tremendous number of ships that she was able to sink before was finally sank herself during a battle with British ships.
The controversy comes in over who is to take credit for the actual, physical sinking of the Bismarck, as the British claim to have sunk her while the Germans claim that her crew destroyed her in a last effort to have some control over their own fate. The film features astonishing research and a detailed look at the history of the ship and the battle that sank her, as well as some incredible computer generated recreations of the actual sinking of the ship, edited together masterfully with the new footage of the 61 year old wreck.
The addition of two of the survivors from the Bismarck, as well as the fact that old enemies now look back on the battle and the war and the lives lost with mutual sadness and regret add a poignant human element to the story, which was always there but which is easy to forget in the face of the sheer magnitude of the ship, her power, and the wrenching inhumanity of that war. This is a powerful documentary that only suffers from a goofy, highly over-dramatic narration that reminds me of the similarly goofy narration of the atrocious documentary Gunner Palace, which generated high expectations and satisfied none. This documentary is the exact opposite, and whether or not James Cameron is cashing in on any kind of success, if he keeps them this good, I say keep them coming.
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