- Directed by Jerry Jameson
- August 1, 1980
In the midst of the Cold War a very specific and very rare mineral is needed to power a new defensive technology. Learning that some of it was stored away on the lost ship Titanic a salvage crew is sent to find and recover that very ship.
There are some movies that can only come out at a specific point in human history. No matter how fun or entertaining the idea might be, if they come out too soon or too late they fail to have a special kind of magic. Or to even make sense really.
Raise the Titanic is one such film. This movie is based on a Clive Cussler book of the same name and the film came out approximately five years before the wreck was actually found. I saw this on TV before the discovery and found the concept rather intriguing back then. I see it now and snicker a bit because, well, history.
Even in its day it was a slightly silly Cold War era thriller with some questionable science containing a firm adventure feel. Despite that they do a good job of selling you on the scenario. You buy into it just enough.
Reportedly they took the John Hammond approach and spared no expense with this film’s production, but Raise the Titanic failed to find a connection with the audience at the box office. Something failed to click here in the minds of the movie going audience. What should be “Wow!” moments in this movie are just entertaining and the finale with all the buildup is just anticlimactic.
Cussler himself was upset with the deviations made from the book and did not authorize another adaption of one of his works until 2005 with Sahara. I am not sure exactly what he expected or what all the deviations were but perhaps they lent themselves to the overall lackluster end product.
The potential love triangle in this film really goes nowhere. Our hero Dirk Pitt (Richard Jordan) was once involved with reporter Dana Archibald (an underutilized Anne Archer) who is now involved with Gene Seagram (David Selby) who is part of the project to find the mineral. Dana’s part in the story is incidental and rather superfluous. The romantic entanglements of the two men with her cause little friction between them. If she was removed from the story it would have had no effect.
Alec Guinness shows up as fictional Titanic survivor John Bigalow. For an individual like Alec Guinness to show up in a movie he barely contributes much of anything and that is rather surprising. I was hoping he might at least join the crew on the salvage mission but his real purpose is to give the film a talent sheen and perhaps given the time of release pull in a few Star Wars fans.
Still though there is something fun about this movie. It’s an interesting adventure story with elements that could be considered grandiose or a bit over the top. There is plenty here that given just a little polish could be great for theaters. As it is it is great for TV and maybe that is why it failed to connect: it was good for TV but released in theaters.
This film is filled with a sumptuous John Barry score. If you expect anything less from Barry, then you do not know his work. He is perhaps most closely associated with the Bond series, but his career was so much more than that. His score is considered a highlight of the film and truthfully it is one of his best.
Raise the Titanic was done in a day before CGI was available to create just about anything. They had to build miniatures and do everything in reality and I think the instances showing the Titanic are rather effective. I think for the most part they hold up aside from a few points where you can recognize that it is a miniature, but they blend a miniature in with real footage and do a good job.
While I enjoyed Raise the Titanic, I understand it might not be for everybody. If you’re a fan of Clive Cussler and wish to see one of his rare book to screen adaptions check this out. Otherwise make this an if you want.