Titanic: Born in Belfast

“Oh shit, an iceberg!”

Genre(s): Documentary

Director: Liam Creagh

Actors: William MacQuitty

Year: 2001

MPAA Rating: NR

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Despite the fact that I wanted to throw my shoe at the TV the first time I tried to watch Titanic: Born In Belfast, it’s not such a bad little documentary. It’s on par with the films that run in a continuous loop in historical museums, and it does a nice job of giving this particular part of history back to the Irish people. You just have to get past the hokey reenactment at the beginning that causes your shoe-throwing instinct to kick in.

Having cleared this minor but rather odious hurdle, you can settle in for an informative look at the building of the Titanic. It was a monumental task that became the pride of Belfast, but feelings were quickly tainted when the ship sank. The sense of sadness and responsibility for the lives lost in the disaster overshadowed this shining accomplishment, and it would take decades before the people of Northern Ireland began to embrace the Titanic again.

The documentary illustrates how the Titanic has made its way back into the hearts of the Irish people, and how it has reclaimed its rightful place in local history. It also delves into all things Titanic, including artifacts, models, memorabilia, books, and films. The best segment finds the Roy Ward Baker (director of A Night to Remember) discussing James Cameron’s Titanic. His take on the movie’s overblown romanticism is refreshing and funny, and he hilariously describes how freaking cold it would have actually been when Jack and Rose did their sappy “I’m flying!” schtick on the bow of the ship. Even funnier is his description of the “Oh shit, an iceberg!” moment that followed. He sort of grumbles his way through the conversation, and as complimentary as he tries to be toward Cameron, you can kind of tell that he thought the movie was crap. So did I!

Also interesting is a segment on a real life couple who married after meeting at a Titanic convention in Northern Ireland. Despite a significant age difference, the two bonded over their Titanic connection, and went on to enjoy a Titanic-themed honeymoon. It’s a sweet story which proves that good things continue to come from this doomed but magnificent ship.

I wouldn’t say this documentary is entirely sea-worthy (or even see-worthy), but it’s reasonably well-intended. The production values aren’t quite up to standard, and a reel of trivia runs randomly along the bottom of the screen. This should be a nice bonus for the viewer, but when it appears in the middle of Roy Ward Baker’s interview, it seems disruptive and disrespectful. Let the man finish, for goodness sake! Flaws aside, the disc is a functional if not fabulous resource for Titanic aficionados.

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