Titanica IMAX and Titanic Exhibition -Science Center

Last night a group of us went to the IMAX film “Titanica” and “Titanic The Artifact Exhibition” at the OntarioScienceCenter. This was a preview of these two attractions and various groups such as SOS were invited to come to this opening night.

There were two options, you could see the movie first and then the artifacts or the other way around. We chose to see the film first. We got there 10 mins before the film was to start and luckily were able to find seats together. This was my first IMAX experience and I must say the theater was impressive and packed. Staff from the science center introduced the evening and gave out some door prizes including bracelets with coal recovered from the wreck.

My first disappointment of the evening was when the OSC staff went off stage and the lights went down. There was a 10 min diatribe about how great IMAX and this theater are. I am not saying it was not impressive but it was a bit drawn out and seemed dated. Finally it ended and the film began.

The film was impressive on such a large screen. The film tells the story of the sinking / expedition the film makers took. They use some original photos of the Titanic as well as their underwater footage and some modern interviews to tell the tale. The expedition was done aboard a Russian ship using Russian submersibles. I noticed during the film that the people and equipment all looked dated and started wondering when this film was shot. The submersibles are a lot less forgiving than diving on SCUBA. They stirred up a lot of silt and bumped into almost everything they tried to look at.

There were some very nice shot and the footage was impressive, the historic photos and interviews were great as well. The film over all was a bit disappointing as it seemed to end very quickly and I could tell right away that we were missing something.

When the house lights came back up they had the director of the film there to answer questions. This is what we learned after the 30 min or so film.

1. This is NOT the film they produced. That is around 100 mins.
2. The longer film has lots more footage of the wreck etc and is supposed to be fabulous if you believe the director.
3. The film was first released in 1991, and he admitted that they started the project in the 80’s
4. Everyone else’s footage is junk and all of James Camerons stuff was made up. (No kidding that is what the guy said)
5. They didn’t take any artifacts based on Dr. Ballard’s stance which he inferred was based on the fact that Woods Hole made him say it.
6. The director was VERY fuzzy on the details. Almost every question he answered he would start to answer, backpedaled and change his answer.

So all in all the footage we saw was good if not a bit disjointed because you leave feeling that you missed something.

On exiting the theater we were directed to the artifact exhibit. Outside the exhibit were snacks and drinks waiting for the crowd. As we filtered into the room there were two ladies in period clothing acting out a part which was amusing. There was also the Captain of the Titanic, or a reasonable facsimile. He gave a speech that was supposed to be the last things the real captain said before leaving on the Titanic. He also talked about the artifacts and his experiences spending 16 or so hours on the wreck.

He then announced that the exhibit was about to open and that there was no food or drink to be taken inside. This was repeated a few times and then the doors were opened. It was beyond my understanding but most of the people in line in front of us were turned away because they had food and or drink with them. The two people in front of us watched the couple in front of them get turned away and then promptly held up their bottled water and said “bottled water is ok, right?” They were also turned away.

Once through the screening we were directed towards another set of doors and two more attendants. They caught even more people who were trying to bring food and drinks into the exhibit. I mean come on people, it is an exhibit of priceless artifacts what part of “No food or Drink” do you not understand???? /rant off

This is where it became interesting. On entering the exhibit you are given a card with someone’s name and information on it. At the end you can look them up in the manifest to see if they survived or not.

The artifacts were amazing. The stuff that survived on the ocean floor boggles the mind. There was cash, coins, personal effects, parts of the ship, tools, luggage etc. There were bottles of perfume with the contents intact, bottles of champagne with the corks still in them and the bubbly inside. China, fittings, furniture, the list goes on.

There were replicas of the rooms/cabins complete with sound affects. The third class cabins were crazy, four bunks to a room and separated by sexes you could end up with three strangers who all spoke different languages. They had sound effects for the third class display that would have been the sound in the bowels of the ship; I can’t say I would be able to sleep with all that thrumming.

Lots of interesting facts etc like that it took one pound of coal to move the ship one foot, there were over 100 furnaces for the boilers etc.

The only criticism that I have about the displays would be the lighting. The cases had a bit of glare on them from the overhead lights and if you got your head in the way of the lights it was hard to read the information cards. The rest of the criticism goes to the people viewing the exhibit. They were bumping into the displays and leaning on the glass etc. Alarms were going off all over the place. Once person in particular was leaning on a long display and when the alarm went off right beside her she moved to the other end leaning on the display the whole way. When someone from our group leaned over and let her know that the alarm was being caused by her and that she shouldn’t lean on the display she remarked “well there should be signs”. Again, come on people, these are ARTIFACTS from the bottom of the ocean; it’s not a garage sale.

Over all I could have skipped the film but that may be because I had higher expectations. I believed that I was going to see a new film with modern footage. The artifacts were great and I would recommend the tour to anyone interested in the period, history or wrecks.

Oh and the passenger I had on the back of my boarding pass survived.

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About Chris Phinney

An IWMS Systems Manager and part time student at McMaster University. Chris is studying anthropology, more specifically archaeology working towards his BA. Chris was formerly a dive shop manager and is factory trained in regulator and equipment service. Chris enjoys research and studying fine details.