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In the ruins of the Titanic



Titanic, in the heart of the wreck

Thursday December 17 at 8:50 p.m. on France 5

One could fear to sink from the first minutes of this documentary, weighed down by thunderous music and the shocking formulas of the voice-over. After this “American-style” introduction, the rest of the film gains in sobriety to delve into the heart of the subject: the wreck of the Titanic which has been lying since April 15, 1912 at nearly 3,800 meters in the North Atlantic.

Through the accounts of oceanographers, microbiologists, submarine operators and filmmakers (like the famous James Cameron), Thomas Risch traces a century of underwater exploration around the “queen of wrecks”. A visit to the Cité de la mer, in Cherbourg, tells us about the technological advances that have made it possible to sink ever deeper into the abyss, from the rudimentary “bathyspheres” of the 1920s to the Ifremer Nautilus and his long, articulated arms.

This didactic approach, supplemented by numerous computer-generated images, makes technical procedures such as the work of scientists on the bacteria that eat away at the shell accessible. A striking 3D model allows to visualize the degradation of this colossus of metal, doomed to disappear under a thick layer of sediment and corals.

There will remain the 6,000 objects reassembled by Ifremer on behalf of the American company RMS Titanic. Carefully restored, the liner’s furniture and passenger belongings are now on display in Las Vegas. Heritage rescue or ultimate exploitation of a terrible tragedy? The documentary does not stand out between those who wish to see the site transformed into an “inviolable sanctuary”, a place of meditation, and those who highlight the archaeological work accomplished. In any case, it is difficult not to be moved by the images of debris strewn on the ocean floor, plates or shoes, the last vestiges of the 1500 missing.

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