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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Titanic [Blu-ray]


(Herbert Selpin, Werner Klingler, 1943)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Tobis Filmkunst

Video: Kino Lorber



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:28:32.041

Disc Size: 31,328,797,051 bytes

Feature Size: 24,403,295,808 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.89 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 17th, 2017



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio German 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

Dolby Digital Audio English 384 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps / DN -2dBt



English, None



• Audio Commentary by Gaylyn Studiar
Trailer (2:27)
Newsreel (9:43)
Aboard the Olympic (16:15)





Description: Before James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster, the Hollywood Titanic of 1953, and the 1958 British film A Night to Remember, there was the Nazi German film Titanic. Begun in 1942, this production nearly sank as decisively as the doomed ocean liner, after the film's director, Herbert Selpin, was overheard making remarks damning the German army. Reported to the Gestapo, Selpin was arrested and later found hanging in his prison cell, the victim of an arranged suicide.

In April, 1943, the film was banned by the Berlin censors because of its terrifying scenes of panic, all too familiar to German civilians undergoing nightly Allied bombing raids. After extensive cutting, Titanic was released in occupied Paris and a few army installations. It wasn't until late 1949 that it was seen in Germany, though it was banned, a few months later, in the Western sectors.

Technically, this Titanic is an excellent catastrophe film; its shots of the ship sinking were later used by the 1958 British film without credit. Somewhat true to the facts though peppered with fictional good Germans both on and below deck the film ends with a trial scene that acquits the White Star Line management, followed by a final slide denouncing England s eternal quest for profit. These packed a powerful propaganda punch; cut from the postwar prints, they have been restored for this Kino Classics edition.



The Film:

This dramatic recounting of the disastrous maiden voyage of H.M.S. Titanic was produced in Germany during WWII and features an undertow of anti-British propaganda absent from other versions of the story. The building of the luxurious ocean liner Titantic proves to be a hugely expensive proposition, and Sir Bruce Ismay (Ernst Fritz Furbringer), president of White Star Lines, wants to make sure that the ship's first crossing is big news. It is at his urging that Capt. Edward J. Smith (Otto Wernicke) pushes for a record speed in their voyage to New York, sowing the seeds for later disaster. This Titanic features a number of rich, decadent British passengers and a handful noble German peasants. While the film was produced with the participation of the Nazi government, its portrait of a disaster at sea proved to be more depressing than inspiring, and it was pulled from theaters shortly after its initial release, though it has since appeared on television and on home video in Europe.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

This Nazi account of the disaster looks like it filmed the collision in Hermann Goering's bathtub. It's also notable for acquainting us with a character previously unknown to history, a German first officer, a paragon of seamanship, who's forever issuing unheeded warnings to Lord Archibald of Canterbury and similarly named irresponsible Brits. As a tirade against capitalism, the National Socialist line proves indistinguishable from the Soviet one, being a matter of champagne-swilling profiteers who all turn into panic-stricken snivellers when the chips are down. A real curiosity, by now richly comic in a gruesome sort of way.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The dual-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of Titanic has some inconsitency related to the source. The density of the print seems compromised in a few sequence.  The visuals are mostly clean, and I noticed no noise - not even in the many night sequences. The bitrate is high and the image quality can range from pleasing to 'requiring restoration'. This Blu-ray still delivers a watchable viewing with the higher resolution exporting depth and an engaging presentation.

























Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1536 kbps in the original German language. There are plenty of, predictable, effects in the film - but they are generally fairly modest not testing the lossless abilities. Werner Eisbrenner's score has some drama but is unremarkable and pedestrian. The dialogue was reasonably clear with a few fractured moments of the accents. There are optional English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras:  I'm very encouraged by the many audio commentaries included frequently on Blu-ray releases these days. Kino add one for Titanic with Professor Gaylyn Studlar of Washington University. She co-edited Titanic: Anatomy of a Blockbuster. It's always a pleasure to hear someone knowledgeable discuss a topic (I recall her commentary on Criterion's The Earrings of Madame De...). Supplements also include a trailer, 10-minute Newreel and a 1/4 hour inspection 'Aboard the RMS Olympic', the lead ship of the White Star Line's trio of Olympic-class liners and slightly smaller than the Titanic.



I had never seen this version of Titanic and its very evident the similarities - probably borrowed from the fated ship's history and poetic license reused in future versions. The politically-focused German -leaning if the timeframe is evident and a fascinating part of the viewing. The Kino Lorber
Blu-ray seems the best way to see this interesting take on the disaster - weak in effects and cohesiveness but it makes up for it in propaganda-analysis appeal. The commentary adds immense value. An unusual film but recommended! 

NOTE: At the writing of this review it is 37% OFF at Amazon.

Gary Tooze

October 6th, 2017



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