Most everyone knows the story of Titanic. Some of the younger generation may only know Titanic from Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster film of the same name. One thing’s certain though, James Cameron was captivated by the ship, its story and the wreckage.
Just like in the opening of Titanic, Cameron’s Ghosts of the Abyss details another real life journey to the North Atlantic ocean aboard the Soviet science vessel Keldysh. Keldysh is the same ship featured in the opening scene of Titanic when a journey to explore her wreckage took place.
While Ghosts of the Abyss may not be one of the most compelling documentaries from the aspect of narration, it can be appreciated for the historical aspects of the expedition. Bill Paxton narrates an unscripted journey as he and Cameron travel nearly 13,000 feet where Titanic’s remains rest on the ocean floor.
It’s amazing to see the footage from the point of view of the 2 MIRs (3 man mini submarines) that went down there. It gets even better when they send the two bots (floating, roving remote controlled cameras that were custom designed and built for this expedition) out to start exploring the different decks within the bowels of what remains of Titanic. Seeing china, lead glass windows and other objects that survived the icy plunge a hundred years ago.
They lost one of the bots during a dive and later went back and succesfully retrieved it. After returning to the surface with it, feeling good about what they had accomplished, they learned of the terrorist attacks that had just taken place earlier that day, September 11th, 2001. Ultimately, they decided to press on and finish with their expedition. On the final day, they laid a plaque on the wreckage that reads “The 1500 souls lost here still speak, reminding us always that the unthinkable can happen, but for our vigilance, humility and compassion.”
Amazingly clear footage captured from the 2 MIRs. So close and clear that I felt I could reach out and touch the ship!
I chose to watch the 2D Blu-ray presentation (since I don’t have a 3D television) but the film was originally shot in 3D. Those of you that are 3D capable should definitely check out the original 3D release. The footage captured from the 2 MIRs was so close and clear that I felt I could reach out and touch the ship. I can only imagine how much better that would look in the 3D version.
Options when selecting the movie to play give you the choice of either the extended version or the original theatrical version. The original theatrical release is 60 minutes, which seems short, but it was originally made for IMAX and select 3D equipped theaters. Those of you who have ever seen a movie made for IMAX will remember that they aren’t typically as long as a standard movie.
The extended cut is 90 minutes long and is the one I decided to watch.
Echoes in time – details the process of combining captured footage from the dives along with greenscreened footage of “ghost actors” that were composited together in the finished film.
Paxton under pressure – Bill Paxton talks about how James Cameron convinced him to go on this expedition. They also document how nervous and genuinely scared he actually was when it came time to go down in the MIR on day 1.
Zodiac cowboys – Details the tough job that specialized members of the crew, known as “cowboys” had. These are the men that have to hook the MIRs back up to special couplings to get them back on to the ship after a dive. When the weather turns bad and the waves are crashing down all around them, these guys really have their work cut out for them!
The saga of Jake and Elwood – Jake and Elwood are the names given to the two bots. This featurette details the rescue operation to retrieve Elwood after it got stuck on one of their dives. While it wasn’t detailed in the final cut of the movie, it actually took 3 separate dives to successfully retrieve Elwood!
The Unthinkable – Featurette detailing reactions from eveyone upon learning the news of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Waskington D.C.
Keldysh home movies – Showing us interactions that took place on board the Keldysh with the film’s crew and the Soviet crew of the ship.
The Cheese Sandwich Prank – Don’t want to give it away, but a very funny prank was pulled on someone during the filming. Watch this bonus feature to find out all about it.