The Titanic documentary everyone’s watching on Netflix
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The Titanic documentary everyone's watching on Netflix

Tragedies tend to have toxic attraction about them and the Titanic is one tragic story that has pulled in many. The recent Titan tragedy has only increased the curiosity surrounding the grand ship and its maiden voyage. Along with the return of Titanic on Netflix, a James Cameron documentary has been rising the Netflix charts this week.

The 2003 film Ghosts of the Abyss, Cameron’s first attempt at documentary-making, takes viewers on a journey to the depths of the ocean to explore the wreckage of the iconic ship.

Directed by the acclaimed filmmaker James Cameron, who previously brought us the 1997 blockbuster film Titanic, selling us an eternal love story that bloomed in the shadow of one of history’s most talked-about aftermaths of capitalist greed.

Ghosts of the Abyss follows Cameron, along with a team of scientists and marine experts, who embarked on an expedition to the site of the Titanic’s wreck, using state-of-the-art technology to capture never-before-seen images.

What is Ghosts of the Abyss about?

Narrated by Bill Paxton, who played the researcher who goes in search of the Heart of the Ocean, Brock Lovett in the 1997 film, Ghosts of the Abyss takes us on a gripping exploration of the interior and exterior of the sunken vessel. With the help of CGI, the documentary superimposes the ship’s original appearance on the deep-dive images, allowing viewers to witness the Titanic in its former glory.

The documentary is not just a visual spectacle; it also delves into the human stories connected to the tragedy. Throughout the film, there are re-enactments of significant events, brought to life by a talented cast. Don Lynch portrays Titanic’s designer, Thomas Andrews, while Ken Marschall embodies White Star Line President J. Bruce Ismay. The cast includes other notable figures from the ship’s history, such as Molly Brown, John Jacob Astor IV, and Captain Edward Smith.

However, Ghosts of the Abyss offers more than just an exploration of the Titanic. The documentary takes an unexpected turn when the crew, diving on September 11, 2001, learns about the devastating terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. This juxtaposition of two tragedies prompts reflection on the immense loss of life and the impact of these catastrophic events.

Upon its release, Ghosts of the Abyss received critical acclaim and was even nominated for a BFCA award for Best Documentary. The film’s captivating 3D visuals, combined with Cameron’s masterful storytelling, with the memory of the OceanGate submersible tragedy fresh in minds, can make for a bone-chilling viewing experience.

Speaking to about the magnetic pull of the Titanic tragedy in the public psyche, Cameron had observed, “The Titanic, I think, is fascinating to people because it’s the safe tragedy that’s at a distance–that we can use as a kind of simulator for our emotions…. It’s really always served that purpose, which is why it’s gone from being something real to almost being a myth…. 

“When I went out there for the first time, what struck me was that it wasn’t a myth; it was real. It wasn’t a Greek tragedy; it was real…. Sometimes things hit you that aren’t intellectual; they’re just emotional. Titanic is a way for us to think about death and loss and grieving and mortality–but at a remove…. Thankfully, you can keep it at a distance.”

Watch James Cameron’s Ghosts of the Abyss on Netflix.