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  • English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
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    SOS Titanic

    Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 98 mins . PG . PAL


    One thing regularly occurs whenever humankind think theyíve outsmarted nature. Someone says something like...

    "This ship is unsinkable!"

    Öand Mama Nature says Ďuh-uhí and really tears some shit up. This is most evident in the classic story of humankindís vanity versus nature in the saga of Titanic, the biggest ship ever built (at the time) and foolishly declared unsinkable by all and sundry. Idiots.

    Everyone knows the story of the great ship RMS Titanic by now, but for those who came in lateÖ

    Itís a big arse ship that had a new hull design incorporating giant cells that, even if flooded, wouldnít allow the ship to sink. Unfortunately, they didnít count on the whole ship being opened up, which was of course their downfall when this big old iceberg came out of the dark and tore the ship a new rotator cuff. Thereís a bunch of the classic tales told here from survivors and eyewitness accounts, but after seeing James Cameron make the monster epic about Titanic to end all monster epics about Titanic, this 98 minute smaller budgeted piece is just a bit hard to get enthused about.

    Plus, this was made in 1979 and special effects were hardly in their heyday. The ship theyíve used for the part isnít exactly a duplicate of Titanic and looks rather cramped most of the time as well. While performances are pretty convincing, the film does suffer from being made in 1979 and so looks the part. Letís just say there are a few hairdos just a tad fresher than we would expect aboard the great ship. There are other various smaller markers like that too, but the most unforgiving is in the film itself. It just looks like it was shot in the Ď70s. Be this in the film stock or just the general fashions of the time, it doesnít really feel like itís set in 1912.

    If youíre one of those Titanic wonks who enjoys all things Titanic, you will also find a few oddities here regarding actual fact versus Hollywood or just the information that was available back then. The biggest of these will of course be evident in the fact the ship, whilst sinking, does not break in half as it did in reality. Also, I didnít spot Leonardo di Caprio anywhere, nor Kate Winslet. Factual indeed!


    Well, for a film thatís just passed its 25th year, this is looking okay. There are some issues with a white glow or haze coming off paler objects (white walls, shirt fabric, Irish peopleís skin etc.) and a few film artefacts here and there. These occur mainly during the reel changes, though there are smaller infrequent specks and such throughout. The edges get a little soft at times too, but the picture is still quite serviceable and clear enough. Colours are slightly washed out as some older films do appear and blacks are true. Shadow detail is surprisingly pretty good, which is handy given that the last half of the film is in darkness. Thatís another point about this film; the ship doesnít even sink until just on the first hour. The rest is adding character storylines and such while attending to the facts. Liberally attending to the facts. The whole thing is presented here in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with unsinkable enhancement.


    Dolby Digital mono does the job here and serves its purpose quite well. Surrounds might have been nice, but for such a budget release we couldnít expect much more than stereo. There are a few accents about, of course, and these are all clear and hassle-free in understanding. The fairly accomplished cast do well with what they have, with notable performances from a young Helen Mirren and Ian Holm as Ismay, the commissioner of Titanic forever labeled a coward.

    Music is scored by Howard Blake with plenty of Irish folk music and pipes before overly dramatic orchestral pieces that build in tempo as the tension of the collision escalates. Not bad and fairly well suited, but again I got the feeling of the Ď70s somehow.


    The main menu holds the chapter list on this budget release and thatís all folks. The rest lies buried at sea.


    Anyone having seen James Cameronís Titanic will no doubt find this film a more difficult watch due to limited special effects and a storyline that leaves great gaps in times and places of characters. There is the bonus of not having Leonardo di Caprio in this version though, so I guess itís up to you. The historical inaccuracies may find those who enjoy a good honest telling of an historical event a little deflated, but for Titanic enthusiasts this one will no doubt have its important place in the collection.

    Still, it is by far and away not the best Titanic version on offer. A Night to Remember and, of course, James Cameronís little effort were both far better tellings than this one.

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      And I quote...
    "Yet another telling of the sinking of this unsinkable ship proves that historical accuracy can make all the difference."
    - Jules Faber
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