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Last Updated: Monday, 14 April, 2003, 14:57 GMT 15:57 UK
Titanic gets 3D treatment

by Leigh Mytton
BBC News Online

James Cameron (left) iwth actor Bill Paxton
Cameron takes a back seat in the film

James Cameron returns to the Titanic with a 3D documentary exploring the shipwreck.

It had been 20 years since I saw a film in 3D.

My first experience was Jaws 3 at the Swindon ABC. It left me totally unprepared for Ghosts Of The Abyss - James Cameron's documentary on the watery grave of ill-fated liner the Titanic.

Instead of paper-framed goggles, I wore wrap-around 3D shades. And the screen was the height of three double-decker buses.

Cameron's 60-minute documentary dived in at the 3D deep end.

We zoomed up to - and then through - a porthole of the ship. I had a massive urge to throw my head back.

The people behind me squealed. They squealed louder when a metal claw appeared to nip at our noses a few minutes later.

Anyone who found Cameron's blockbuster Titanic overly sentimental will be relieved to hear that this film makes little reference to it.

Ghosts of the Abyss
The ship is entrenched in the ocean bed

It is more about the film-maker's obsession with the subject of his Oscar-winning movie.

Cameron lurks in the background, leaving the limelight to Apollo 13 star Bill Paxton, who narrates the film.

His Boy's Own excitement is a bit excessive at times, but what he is doing - diving 2.5 miles to the bottom of the Atlantic - is amazing.

And you do share his wonder at first catching sight of the ship, now half-buried in silt and shrouded in rusticles.

Using state-of-the art technology, Cameron's crew explore the inner recesses of the ship.

But this isn't just about technology. You cannot help thinking about the victims of the disaster. As the cameras go about their business, you wonder what happened to the man whose bowler hat still rests where he left it or the socialite who admired her reflection in the mirror of a now-decayed wash stand.

The emotions stirred up by the wreck are enhanced by graphics depicting the ship in its original glory and the people who sailed on it. They are superimposed over what remains of the once-magnificent vessel.

The band who famously played on appear on the deck where they performed their last concert. Elegant diners take their seats in front of leaded-light windows, still intact more than 90 years on.

I did not like Titanic, but I liked this.

And there is no way I'll wait another 20 years for my next 3D film experience. It was breathtaking.

Ghosts of the Abyss is showing at IMAX cinemas across the UK.

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