Secrets of the Titanic Documentary – A Review of Bob Ballard Exploring the RMS Titanic

In 1985, underwater explorer Dr. Robert Ballard held a press conference in which he told the world that he had found the most famous ship ever, the RMS Titanic.  That same year of Ballard’s discovery, National Geographic came out with an issue of their famous magazine that had the Titanic on the cover. One year later, when Ballard actually went down to the ship itself, National Geographic came out with another issue of their magazine that had the up close photos of the wreck. National Geographic issued the two magazines all about Titanic, and also released a documentary called Secrets of the Titanic, which covers her discovery, and the trips that Bob Ballard took down to her in his little submarines and actually explored the ship.  The documentary Secrets of the Titanic was narrated by Martin Sheen, and it was the first time that the world got to see the Titanic in her final resting place.

The Building of The RMS Titanic

With Martin Sheen narrating, the documentary begins, and starts off with the building of the Titanic. Sheen explains how construction began in 1909, and there are many pictures shown when the ship was nothing more than an iron frame.   The documentary also explains about what life was like in 1912, things were changing for the world, and suddenly progress was building cars and building huge ships.  Mankind was feeling pretty good about themselves because they suddenly felt superior to anyone and anything including Mother Nature.  The world was confident, and man felt pretty untouchable at this point especially when the largest ship in the world was about to be launched, and the fact that she was considered to be unsinkable.  There are some authentic photos on board Titanic shown in the documentary taken by Father Francis Brown, the priest who got on the ship in England, took his photos, and then got off the ship in Queenstown, Ireland.  Father Brown was fortunate to take the pictures that he did, and today his photos still show what life was like on board Titanic before everything went so horribly wrong.

The Discovery and Exploration of The Titanic

The documentary then shifts from the Titanic sinking to the man who discovered her, Doctor Robert Ballard, and the explorer talks about the difficulty he faced trying to convince people that he had the technology to find the Titanic.  Ballard was not the first man to try and find Titanic, Texas billionaire Jack Grimm had also tried to find her, and had gone on two previous expeditions to the last coordinates the ship was at the night of the disaster. However, Grimm only had underwater sonar, and was not able to locate anything.  Finally, the US Navy agreed to sponsor an expedition, and Ballard and his crew set sail from the Woods Hole Institute in Massachusetts to the North Atlantic.  After almost two months of non-stop searching around the clock, wreckage began to appear on the screen, everyone got excited about what it might be, and then their suspicions were confirmed when Titanic’s distinctive round boilers with the round doors appeared on the monitor.  When Bob Ballard came to the control room, and saw the boilers, he shared the joy and elation of his crew. However, once everyone started looking at the wreckage, the enormity of the situation hit them all and they pay their respects outside on deck.

Two and a Half Miles Down

Ballard discovered the Titanic, but going two and a half miles down in a tiny submarine is dangerous work that everyone must prepare for including the tiny hummingbird-like robot named JJ, that will actually go into the ship.  After almost a year of preparation, Bob Ballard and his crew head back to the Titanic wreck so he can go down there and explore the ship up close. This is the first time that anyone will get to see what Titanic is like after almost three-quarters of a century underwater.  The viewer is right there with Ballard, and gets to see just how small those subs are, and once it is in the water, the depth that the Titanic lays at is truly understood because it takes the submarine two and a half hours just to get to her.  If something was to happen with the sub, the three men inside of it would be instantly killed because the depth would crush it like an aluminum can.  However, there is a problem with the submarine, and Ballard was only able to see the ship for a moment before having to return to the surface.  The submarine is quickly repaired, and the next day, Ballard finally gets to see the Titanic, and the viewer too is right there exploring the great ship with her. When JJ, the mini-robot, is finally let loose, the robot gets to go down the Grand Staircase, but there is nothing but a giant hole. JJ also explores things like a chandelier, a beam, and the bronze pedestal that is on the remains of the bridge.  Ballard also explores the debris field that lies between the bow and the stern.

For anyone that wants to see the Titanic when she was first discovered, Secrets of the Titanic is the documentary to see because she is in the best possible shape. Time is not a friend to this once majestic ship, and the documentary captures her in all her glory before the ravages of time start to age and destroy her.