Watch 80 Minutes of Never-Released Footage Showing the Wreckage of the Titanic (1986)

Per­haps, this past Valen­tine’s Day, you caught a screen­ing of James Cameron’s Titan­ic, that nine­teen-nineties block­buster hav­ing been re-released for its 25th anniver­sary. You may have even found your­self feel­ing a renewed appre­ci­a­tion for the film’s pre­ci­sion-engi­neered mix­ture of Hol­ly­wood romance and tech­no­log­i­cal­ly robust his­tor­i­cal re-cre­ation. As Cameron him­self tells it, he and his col­lab­o­ra­tors were gal­va­nized to reach such heights by mak­ing a series of under­wa­ter expe­di­tions to see the wreck­age of the RMS Titan­ic itself first­hand in 1995 — less than a decade after that most noto­ri­ous of all ocean lin­ers was redis­cov­ered.

The Titan­ic van­ished beneath the waves of the Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912. For near­ly 75 years there­after, nobody saw it again, or indeed had a clear idea of where it even was. It was­n’t until 1985 that its loca­tion was deter­mined, thanks to a joint expe­di­tion by Jean-Louis Michel of French nation­al oceano­graph­ic agency IFREMER and Robert Bal­lard of the Woods Hole Oceano­graph­ic Insti­tu­tion. The job neces­si­tat­ed the use of IFRE­MER’s new high-res­o­lu­tion sonar as well as the WHOI’s remote­ly con­trolled deep-sea vehi­cle Argo and its com­pan­ion robot Jason, designed to take pic­tures and gath­er objects from the sea floor.

When Bal­lard and his crew returned to the Titan­ic the fol­low­ing year, they brought a new cast of machines with them: the deep-div­ing sub­mersible DSV Alvin, the Jason’s descen­dant Jason Jr., and the cam­era sys­tem ANGUS (Acousti­cal­ly Nav­i­gat­ed Geo­log­i­cal Under­wa­ter Sur­vey). You can see more than 80 min­utes of the footage they col­lect­ed in the video at the top of the post, new­ly uploaded to the WHOI’s Youtube chan­nel. This expe­di­tion marked “the first time humans set eyes on the ill-fat­ed ship since 1912,” and most of the footage shot on it has nev­er before been released to the pub­lic.

The video offers close-up views of the Titan­ic’s “rust-caked bow, intact rail­ings, a chief offi­cer’s cab­in and a prom­e­nade win­dow,” as NPR’s Emi­ly Olson writes. “At one point, the cam­era zeroes in on a chan­de­lier, still hang­ing, sway­ing against the cur­rent in a haunt­ing state of ele­gant decay.” What’s more, “the WHOI’s new­ly released footage shows the ship­wreck in the most com­plete state we’ll ever see.” Over the past 37 years, the hand­i­work of the world of under­sea organ­isms have tak­en their toll on the Titan­ic, whose remains could van­ish almost entire­ly in a man­ner of decades — but whose pow­er to inspire works of art will sure­ly go on and on.

Relat­ed con­tent:

See the First 8K Footage of the Titan­ic, the High­est-Qual­i­ty Video of the Ship­wreck Yet

Watch the Titan­ic Sink in This Real-Time 3D Ani­ma­tion

Titan­ic Sur­vivor Inter­views: What It Was Like to Flee the Sink­ing Lux­u­ry Lin­er

The Titan­ic: Rare Footage of the Ship Before Dis­as­ter Strikes (1911–1912)

How the Titan­ic Sank: James Cameron’s New CGI Ani­ma­tion

Titan­ic Sink­ing; No Lives Lost” and Oth­er Ter­ri­bly Inac­cu­rate News Reports from April 15, 1912

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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