An excellent overview of both disasters
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 01/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The fiery crash of the Hindenburg and the sinking of the Titanic are two of the most unforgettable disasters of the twentieth century, and this video does an excellent job of recounting the facts of these cases. First, however, it describes the loss of the British airship R101, a disaster easily assigned to incompetence and bad judgment on the part of the British government's overzealous efforts to beat Germany at the airship game. The Hindenburg was Germany's 129th zeppelin, and its crash in 1937 accounted for the first passengers ever killed since the service began in 1900. A lot of fascinating details about the airship are presented (I actually enjoyed the short history of zeppelins as much as the coverage of the disaster), although I still have a hard time believing people would choose to fly in one of the behemoths no matter how luxurious the trip was. The focus is, of course, on the crash, and naturally we get to hear much of radio reporter Herb Morrison's live description of it. It really is a hard and painful thing to watch, yet one can't help but be awed by the speed in which the doomed airship went up in flames, crashing down as a hulk of its former self a mere 32 seconds after the fire ignited. The video gives voice to several theories as to what happened, including charges of espionage by anti-Nazi groups, but it acknowledges the fact that the truth will most likely never be known with certainty. The Titanic segment does a commendable job of communicating facts, dropping in several fascinating tidbits, and never sensationalizing the story. It begins by giving an account of the building and early troubles of Titanic's sister ship Olympic, a subject which is not as familiar to most people. Everyone basically knows the story of the Titanic, but I must say that no matter how many times I hear the facts I am always amazed at the unbelievable amount of incompetence that doomed the great ocean liner. This video covers Captain Smith's less than sterling history with the seemingly cursed Olympic and his disregard of numerous ice warnings on that fateful night, and it also points an accusing finger at the cowardly Bruce Ismay who pushed Captain Smith to travel at full speed despite travel conditions. It details a few of the heartwarming stories of bravery and self-sacrifice by those who stayed on board the boat as it sank, men such as Benjamin Guggenheim who donned formal attire to die as a gentleman and the incredibly wealthy John Jacob Astor who saw his wife into a lifeboat before stepping back to meet his fate. It is the human aspects of the disaster as much as the physical act of the collision and sinking of the boat that makes this such a universally compelling story. The only caveat I would offer has to do with the simulated sinking of the boat. I believe we know for sure now that the Titanic did break into two parts before it went to its watery grave, but this video shows it going down whole. I think even the most knowledgeable Titanic buff will find this video interesting and worthwhile. Offering quality documentaries on the tragic losses of both the Hindenburg and the Titanic, this video is one of the very best in the Mysteries and Myths of the Twentieth Century series."