Reviews of Ghosts of The Abyss

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Jul 14, 2000
Well, my wife and I went to the theater this afternoon and saw GOTA.
Let me first say that it is a wonderful accomplishment and an important milestone
in Titanic history to be sure. However my viewing experience was, shall I say impaired to some extent.
I was under the impression that the movie was to be presented in IMAX format. That is to be shown on the giant movie screen. The version playing in Charlotte was shown on a standard 35mm movie screen.
Though the film was in 3D, I was still somewhat disappointed. My main quip is with the multi-layering of various film frames from the subs onto the screen and playing each simultaneously. I found myself struggling to know where to look. The separate image boxes ended up being rather small and hard to see clearly. It seemed confusing to me.
And I was surprised to see that so much of the film's run time dealt with the above surface goings-on such as sub launch and recovery, Paxton's nervousness at diving, and Russian cooking lessons.
Considering the amount of real dive footage that I felt was more important and needed to be seen, and the already short length of the film, I came away feeling a bit frustrated and bitchy.

When I told my wife of my disappointment, she informed me rather bluntly that, "You're seeing this through the eyes of fanaticism dear. Remember this wasn't a documentary. If it was it would be on PBS, not on the big screen. Normal people need to be entertained along the way, you know."

Perhaps she's right. Perhaps I am a fanatic. Alas, I actually feel myself smile, my chin rock upward and my chest inflate at the idea of such a label. (I'm so sad)

Like I said, this film is tremendous in its own right. And I feel uncomfortable by casting a stone at something that will guaranteed be found in my entertainment library very soon. It's not like I could have pulled something of this magnitude off in my lifetime. So who am I to criticize? But it did seem like I was having to exert myself during the feature in order to stay focused.

Some of my favorite parts were:

* The re-animations of the old B/W Photos.
* The computer animations of the wreck interior.
* The grand staircase opening viewed from the entrance on B deck, and lit from above as if by moonlight.
* The reception room windows...WOW!!!! Extraordinary.
* The scene of the Mrs. Astor being passed through the A deck window.
* The engines. Like a great cathedral from Atlantis. The 3D effects really conveyed a feeling of colossal space and size. Stunning.
* The debris field in 3D. So realistic that my jaw dropped open.

And these are just a few of the highlights.

What I wished there was more of:

^ Footage of the forepeak areas.
^ More time spent on the wireless rooms.
^ Discussion of the collision and sinking.
^ More of the old B/W photos, re-animated and in 3D. (Those were really super)
^ More footage of the elevators.
^ More of the stern, (yeah I know its trashed).
^ And lastly, more and closer inspections of what remains of the officer's quarters. I know the chart room and Captain's qrts. are gone, but are all the crew's quarters on the Boat deck gone????
If not, what's inside?

Most of all I want: MORE MORE MORE MORE!!! ;-)

My wife asked me if I planned to go see it again considering my frustration. My reply was immediate: "Oh absolutely, absolutely."

To Don Lynch, Ken Marschall, Parks Stephenson and of course our dedicated film maker Mr. J. Cameron, and to all those involved in this film:
I offer a sincere, heart felt thank you. For your incredible efforts, vision, and dedication to this lost ship, you are all now a fixed part of this great legend. And I am in awe of your talent.


Yuri Singleton
Jan 7, 2002
I have seen the film six times..each time picking up on details missed in previous viewings...

First off, the 3D format was extrordinary, literally adding a whole new dimension to the experience, making one feel as though they are in the cramped submersible viewing the wreck....

Call me an impatient ninny, but I wanted to see the wreck footage at once..once it did arrive, I was not disapointed...

This expedition succeeded in reaching areas of Titanic not seen since she went down...

The past decade of Titanic expeditions that focused on recovering artifacts apparently had minimal interest, if any, in exploring Titanic's interior, and even if the interior had been filmed, the footage has never been released..

Let us hope the 2001 expedition will be the model from which future Titanic expeditions can follow- I.e engage in extensive interior penetrations, have people who know Titanic inside and out interpret the data, and share the findings with the Titanic community.

The 'Ghosts' in the film were moments where 1912 period characters or scenes were morphed into the current view within the wreck, which was superb way in giving the viewer a proper context in which to interpret the footage.

The best examples of this was when computer generated image of the grand staircase morphed into the same angle of that area, as seen today.

Another riveting scene was of a computer generated depiction of the wirless and silent rooms, where it was intermingled with the modern footage of the wrecked equipment in the same location.

Without the benifit of the recreations of the wireless room, it would have been next to impossible to fully understand what one was looking at....

Of particualar interest to me was the fact sections of the interior are in much better shape than we all thought. Many have long thought all the woodwork was long gone- yet here we discover most of the paneling in the First Class reception room was intact, and astoundlingly, most of the stained glass windows unbroken.....

There was one point in the film where my eyes darted left to right and back again,nearly bursting from their sockets, as i was trying to keep up with the split screen of the two views seen by the camera probes Jake and Elwood.....
(named for the beloved John Belushi and Dan Akroyd characters in 'the Blues Brothers')

Sections of the ship where we could associate a connection with a specific passenger struck the deepest emotional chord with me....

The view of Edith Russel's intact mirror told many tales to me....imagine all the reflections that have been cast within that mirror- the men who installed it, passenger Edith Russel brushing her hair every day, the rising water, the passage of time and after many years, Jake and Elwood's the robotic cameras!!

Ismay's fireplace was also haunting, as no doubt Ismay touched it....

I must admit, Ken Marshall makes a convincing Ismay...

Oddly enought, this film reduced me to tears, as it had a far greater emotional impact in conveying the real horror of Titanic than the Titanic movie...
Because what we see in Ghosts of the Abyss is the real mccoy.......

Ghosts Of The Abyss is stunning-The Imax theatre is next door to where I work, so i will be seeing Ghosts of the Abyss every night....

I can only imagine had this expedition been able to explore the Turkish Baths, most if not all of the wood would have been found intact...

I concure with Yuri, I too would have loved to have seen the remnants of the officers quarters explored........

The area that im most eager to see explored in a future expedition is the Reading and Writing Room. A large hole on the boat deck and large square windows on A deck would have offered easy access....The forward alcove should be explorable, and even though the deck starts to cave in a few yards afte, perhaps remnants of the First Class loung can be seen...
Remember,on D deck, mere feet from where that deck collapses, we can see two intact leaded glass windows-
perhps there is then surviving hints of the opulance of the A deck Lounge.....

The squash court had steel walls, so that room should be intact- and ripe for exploring!

It seemed ironic that this expedition coincided with the date of sept 11,2001, as the horror we all felt that day may on some levels be akin to the shock felt by the world on April 15 1912....

The book companion to the film is superb, and for goodness sakes, see this film!!!!

I give it 27 thumbs up.....


Tarn Stephanos

Deborah Kogan

Jan 29, 2003
I went to see GotA today, twice. Absolutely mind boggling; just think that there are 30 minutes more when it comes out on tape/DVD. As most everyone here knows, Ken Marschall plays Ismay, Don Lynch plays Andrews, and Parks Stephenson plays Phillips' hand... When the bow looms up, backlit with a bluish light, it looks like a painting, but this is the real thing... The 3D effects (especially with the original black and white photographs and computer graphics) make you feel you are actually there... At one point, small pop up squares of photos of those who died appear on the screen, and I think that was the most moving part for me... Go see it several times, if possible, because you can't take in all the details at once.. I understand that they had taken styrofoam cups down attached to the outside of one of the Mirs to show they effects of water pressure (it shrinks them to the size of a large thimble); I saw some preshrunk cups on a table on the Keldish.. they say "Ghosts of the Abyss" on them.. I was amazed that the front portion of the ship made the descent in such a way that the leaded glass windows of the First Class reception area are perfectly intact, and a glass and carafe sat on a shelf next to a washstand, just as it had been left...There is much of the ship in seemingly good condition....The only confusing part was when one of the camera robots develops a bad battery... The participants of one of the Mirs is shown deciding what to do up on the Keldish (make a prong to pick it up with the good 'bot).. That Mir went up while the other stayed down and waited for the rescue?.. Jim Cameron and all the folks who worked on this movie should be thanked a thousand times for this incredible addition to both knowledge about the Titanic and a most intimate experience of the ship... Thank you, again!!!
May 5, 2001
Hello All,

It seems like forever since I have visited ET but I must say, what better way to do it then to provide my experience of going to see GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS. It was at The Palisades Mall in the IMAX theater in Nyack, NY and I was impressed because I have never been to an IMAX theater before, a screen that big and all.

When the movie started, I was blown away by the 3d effects immediately, it had been awhile since I have viewed anything 3-D and I must say they did an excellent job with this film, especially

@ When they came down on the ship

@ When they swam over the infamous Bow scene, the 3D made me feel like I was IN THE SUBMERSIBLE.

@ When they put you at the end of the robot arm, it almost made you feel like you could reach out and touch it.

I definitely need to see this film again and again, whether in the theater again or when the DVD comes out, in 3D or 2D, this film is a masterpiece.

The BEST parts of this was when they put you in certain parts of the ship, which under normal circumstances, would be viewed as "unrecognizable", and they would overlay what it actually looked like. This to me was a tremendous help in KNOWING what I was looking at.

Cameron & Paxton are to be congratulated, this film is a triumph and those who have yet to see it are in for a treat.

Those who are critical of the films presentation should know that after viewing this film with the 3D glasses provided, my eyes were extremely tired and still are to a degree and there were also parts of the film where the glasses seemed not to function and I saw two images as if I were seeing it without the glasses but these were minor, technical glitches which were overshadowed by the entire film.

This film has GOT to be an achievement, even my wife, a staunch Anti-Titanic person, thanks to my fanaticism, liked this film so it is going to be a definite hit and should win some academy awards next year............count on it.

Regards and glad I'm back,
May 8, 2001
Hello, Hello, Hello!!! Guess what I snuck off and did today?
"It just so happened" I had to be in Ontario this afternoon. I didn't get much past it. I just caught wind that it will be at the IMAX in Cathedral City next week. LOOK OUT!!!
First, as you all have stated, a big nod of approval, and 2 more thumbs up, for this absolutely wonderful film! For those who helped this movie in any way, my hat's off to you. I was slack jaw, bug eyed, and motionless throughout the movie... Well, except when I ducked and nearly dove over backwards to get away from that ROV arm that came out at the beginning of the movie. (What can I say, the last 3-D movie I saw was Jaws-3D.)Got in line early, and got the best seats in the house! Almost stormed the door to get in, hollering "Get Out of my WAY!" The excitement was intense.
Edwardian Detail in perfect 3-D. WOW! Eye Candy!
Yuri. I have to agree that there was a bit too much Mir-Keldish-look at the people looking through the peep hole for me too. What about the extinct sea creatures they found on the Titanic,or the different color floor tile discovered to name two questions, offhand? 1 hour was definately not enough.
It was thrilling to seeing the overlay of what was, and what is now. I just didn't want to be "interrupted from my adventure" by the scene changing. Almost as if I was pulled away from being there. (Like Christopher Reeves in Somewhere in Time!)
I will probably need to watch the movie several more times to be able to see all the activity going on in the film.
After the movie was finished, I had a couple more surprises in store for me. One very kind man, named Jeff, overheard me speaking, and asked me a few questions. Come to find out, he worked with Eric and Bill on the Queen Mary, many moons ago. Second, I was introduced to Randy, the owner of "Tip of the Iceburg" out of the San Diego area. Had a most interesting conversation with him too. 2 hours later, we finally left the theater. A fulfilling and absolutely terrific day!

John Clifford

Mar 30, 1997
Colleen, when you see it at IMAX, "you are in for at treat".

I saw GOTA at the IMAX 3-D at the Bridge Cinema De Lux, and it was AWESOME!!!!
The IMAX effects "really made you a part of the action"; "YOU WERE THERE!!!".

I agree that with the other reviews posted here: there was a little too much of Bill Paxton going "WOW!", and possibly too much Keldysh scenes.

However, the images seen on the ship were incredible, and I remember how much Don Lynch awed about it, last year, during his presentation in Springfield.

I also found it fun to see Ken Marschall and Don Lynch portraying Bruce Ismay and Thomas Andrews, respectively.

I will definitely be back to see the film, at the Bridge!!

Thanks, James!
Nov 23, 1996
As for Ghosts of the Abyss, I managed to cut out of work early on Friday, afternoon to watch this film in a converted 3-d theater in Manchester, CT. I made it to the 5:30 showing and was one of three people watching it at this time.

The film was incredible - Tarn call me I need to come to Boston and see it in IMAX.

The interior shots were incredible, what we have been waiting to see for years. I must comment that I agree that there was to much of the Mir I and II and the research vessel shown for my taste, but you need to cater the film for all audiences.

But since no one has said it yet did we really need the "SINGING RUSSIAN AGAIN" I though I was watching "TITANICA" for a second, thank god it was only for about 30 to 45 seconds and didn't go on and on like "Titanica"

Having seen "Titanica" in Imax originally and then again in "Omnimax" I must say for a converted regular movie theater this was quite impressive.

I had a problem with the multi shots which do you watch?, and there was a problem with the alignment of the 3-d as there was a blue/ white strip down the center of the screen. But I got by this quickly.

The "ghosting" images were incredible and Parks it was worth the wait for the wireless room images great work.

Due to the numerous mutli-image shots, I keep the 3-D glasses at the end of the film, and went to the rest room and snack bar and snuck in to watch the film again the first time I had sat in the last row of seats on the far left to get the whole screen effect, this time I sat in the center of this row the 3-D effect was much better here. And I caught more details in the video as a wasn't listening to the dialect this time. During this showing at 7:00 there were about twenty people. I enjoyed it much more knowing what was coming and could concentrate on the video in greater detail.

In fact I enjoyed it so much I sat there like you "Tarn" and watched it for a third time. This showing started at 8:30 this time I moved a few rows down so I couldn't see the whole screen at one time. This made the 3-D effect even better.

So from experience in sitting in various sections of the theater get the seats in the center and sit in the center of this row for the best effects.

During this showing there were about 75-90 or so people, lot of talking and food wrappers as there were a lot of young teenage or early twenty something girls. Talking throughout the film.

Now get this I should post this in the "I Need Help With Titanic Idiots" tread. They were all upset because they had come to see you know who:

JACK and ROSE as Ghosts. The kept wanting to see them and were entirely pissed off that they were not in this film, the felt tricked by Cameron. They though it was a sequel to the original "Titanic" as it was done by James Cameron. I just sat there and laughed along with many others over this.

Many others were commenting it was to short for the $9.00 admission fee and they felt it didn't need to be in 3-D.

Since I was now 9:45 and I hdn't eaten dinner yet I left the theater. I plan on returning on Tuesday night with a few friends for another showing. I will go to the 9:00 showing the good video should start around the correct time so to say.

And since I haven't seen a comment on it yet I think there was no better person to dedicate this film to way a fitting tribute to the man who started this for many of use Walter Lord.

Again an incredible film, I am however still waiting for my copies of the books to arrive.

Nathan Good

Hi all,

This film was a crowning achievement of a documentary, it was all I could have hoped for, if somewhat short. I could have sat and enjoyed another couple hours of wreck footage. However, what the film lacked in length it more than made up for in content. The 3D images were well done and added to the film. The way James Cameron panned from pre sinking to wreck footage was spectacular, I particularly enjoyed the reinactments and black and white scenes. Like others, I felt these scenes greatly enhanced the experience of seeing the similar space at the bottom of the ocean. More than just the wreck footage, I thought the film was entertaining as well. The commentary by several different individuals was interesting to hear. 'Ghosts of the Abyss' is fitting and emotional tribute to the people of the Titanic as well as the wreck itself. Cameron and his team truly put the disaster and its impact in perspective. Well done!

All the best,

Nathan Good

Also, I thought it was great of Cameron to give Don Lynch and Ken Marschall the opportunity to go see the wreck first hand. I cannot think of any two people that deserved the privelage more than these men who have worked for much of their lives preserving the memory of the Titanic and her passengers. It must have been an incredible and emotional experience for these men to visit the ship that has driven them all these years.
Jun 10, 1999
It's interesting that one-half of the renowned cable TV critic (The other is dead) praised the film as *HOT*. Albeit they predicted the billion
dollar Cameron predessor would sink.

Mention of the superimposed Cameron "TITANIC" scenes was the only downplay.

Have'nt a clue when it will appear at a screen near me. RENO perhaps...?

Michael Cundiff


Eric Paddon

Jun 4, 2002
"And I was surprised to see that so much of the film's run time dealt with the above surface goings-on such as sub launch and recovery, Paxton's nervousness at diving, and Russian cooking lessons."

Why does this not surprise me? It seems like this is the curse of *any* film about a Titanic expedition, a lot of wasted time with build-up and boring surface stuff and very little of the wreck itself.

Christine Bucher

I hope that I don't open a can of worms when I add a critical comment. Whats up with the "undersea explorer" pontificating about 9/11? I found him rather obnoxious.

Dan Cherry

Dec 14, 1999
Alas, I was afraid the Ghosts of the Abyss would follow in the footsteps of 'Titanica' and the 1991 television program about the joint Canadian/Russian/US expedition, which promoted the joint effort/relations and the technology, with previous little about the ship itself. I expressed my concerns over the past year that I hoped the latest offering would steer away from the rut that other documentaries seem to stray to. I am sorry to hear that the film hasn't pleased some for the same reasons. I do realize that there are many facets of the journey, and that each portion of the journey is in itself vital, but it can be likened to going across country to one's favorite theme park. Depicting the journey it took to get to the theme park can be interesting, but those you're sharing your experiences with probably will not wish to sit through a minute by minute narration of driving across the corn fields of Nebraska and only touching on your day at the park. Highlighting it is fine, but the real appeal is your arrival and enjoyment at the theme park. Yet, at the same time, it is difficult to condense the journey into an hour's time! Been there, done that with many projects presented for public review. One must understand the audience and give them what they seek, within reason. Granted, you're not going to make everyone happy - Lord knows I've tried, but in my experience I have to stand back and decide whether or not a particular offering is vital to the end-project!
As I've stated before, after seeing the trailer which gave in my opinion a somewhat disappointing first impression (and the trailer is intended to be a teaser/enticer), I shall in the meantime enjoy my wonderful GotA book and patiently wait instead for the video release.

Logan Geen

Dec 2, 2001
Hi All,
I just saw this today at my local IMAX theater and I almost cried. This was everything that the Titanic movie was supposed to be but wasn't. It presented and conveyed an understanding of the disaster in 45 minutes of documentary better than the 3 hour movie. While I love the movie I felt that the intended respect for the disaster was lost in the love story, being nothing more than just a conveniant "backdrop". GOTA put the disaster front and center and conveyed a respect for the human side that I never felt in the movie. It was well down and I was impressed at the way the September 11th references were woven in. I was also pleased that Cameron chose not to use clips from the movie when people were shown-I didn't know that Lynch and Marshall played the characters but that is awesome. The music was also well chosen. I remember being deeply touched when I saw the Walter Lord dedication at the end. I was a little annoyed at Bill Paxton's constant talking but I found the surface scenes interesting enough not be too annoyed. Mr. Cameron did a fantastic job. Whatever he fell short on in the movie I believe he more than made up for with Ghosts of the Abyss. I can't wait till it comes out on DVD (of course it looked cool in 3D but it would have been great either way)which I hope Disney plans a release. Just my opinions!
Mar 3, 1998
I have now seen the film with both the liquid crystal shutter goggles and the more simplistic polarised glasses. Unfortunately, what one gets is dependent upon the theatre one sees the movie in. With the liquid crystal goggles (Universal CityWalk in L.A.), the 3-D effect was crystal clear, all edges were sharp and there was virtually no "ghosting." With the polarised glasses (Mira Mesa 18 in San Diego), the "ghosting" was (at least in my experience today) very apparent and annoying. I realise that most won't be able to choose the method with which they will view the movie, but I mention it just in case someone lives in an area that has a choice of theatres. In that case, I would recommend calling around to see which (if any) of the area theatres offer the more sophisticated liquid crystal shutter goggles.

My comments above are based on my personal experience, not something I assumed or had heard from somewhere else.


Timothy Brandsoy

I saw it Sunday in Horton Plaza (flat screen). We had the flat purple glasses. It was still very impressive. I hope the DVD is also 3D. I'd seen "Titanica" at Reuben H. Fleet in Balboa Park with the half geo dome and that was impossible to figure out, even horizontal lines were curved.

That GotA was too short is my only big complaint. I plan on seeing it again, alone! They could have just sloooowed it down, as some of the multiple images were confusing to a novice friend who I dragged along LOL. I even liked Bill's 'everyman' perspective. My friend loved the Jake and Elwood rescue. It added a bit of levity to a serious movie, especially considering the then current 9/11 situation.

They still seemed to think Margaret Brown's cabin was on B Deck...but it was done in 2001. IMHO a Great Film!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Feb 6, 2003
Dan I live in Nebraska and its as bad as you say it is. It just sucks. Were basically a black hole between Iowa and Colorado. Josh

Trent Pheifer

Hey everyone,

I finally got my chance to see this amazing movie today. Congrats, to Jim Cameron, Don Lynch, Ken Marschall, Parks, and everyone who worked on this movie. The result was worth the 2 year wait. The one hour had so much more of an emotional impact than the Titanic movie ever did. (I still like the movie)

It was amazing to see things that I have watched and seen in pictures come to life in front of me. It was like I was on the rescue ship, I was on the wreck. I loved the 1912 picture that were in 3-D It gave a whole new perspective to pictures I have seen a million times.

I got major chills a couple times while watching the movie. When taking about lifeboat number one and showing the davit, a continuous chill for a few minutes while pictures of those who died passed by, and the scenes dealing with 9/11. Those were the most emotional for me.

I really enjoyed the dissolve shot to see the 1912 Titanic compared to what she looks like today. The re-inactments gave me such and eerie feeling. Words cannot describe the feeling I got from the movie, it really made the tragedy hit home. Just amazing!

Feb 13, 2002
I saw it today as well!

I wasn't lucky enough to get the IMAX experience, but plan to see it in one if I ever get the chance. I live in Austin...big city...we still had to drive 20 miles to see it. One theater in the whole town showing it.

It was made more special to me getting to see it on Easter Sunday, not only that, but it's the first movie my Husband & I have seen together and we will celebrate our third wedding anniversary in three weeks! (Gee...get out much?)

I only wish it had also been three hours long! It took about 20 minutes to get use to the glasses (wasn't lucky enough to get the liquid crystal goggles ) there was a lot of "ghosting" I would finally get focused and the scene would change. I did get a little irritated when I was focusing on one thing and missing something else. I hope the DVD does it justice.

One of the things I loved the best...was all the name dropping! :eek:) I have only been a member here for a little over a year, but to see people who's names I knew, was just as thrilling! (You can ask Mr. Behe...I get "star-struck" quite easily.) Involved in this film or not, a great many of you are stars to me! (collective...Awwwwwwwwww)

To quote Tarn...

"It seemed ironic that this expedition coincided with the date of Sept. 11,2001, as the horror we all felt that day may on some levels be akin to the shock felt by the world on April 15 1912...."

It was in that moment that it all came together for me...seeing in with new...and old...eyes!

Well done? Yes!
Too much to take in in one sitting? Yes!
Would I do it again at non- matinee prices? Yes!

Hats off to all,


Mike Herbold

Dec 13, 1999
We saw "Ghosts of the Abyss" at the Irvine Spectrum IMAX, an Edwards Cinema. It is, of course, an incredible masterpiece, just like the book. Luckily the 3-D was not overdone or gimmicky, which surprised me. After seeing Disney's name on the opening credits, I was concerned that they would senationalize everything.

Once we left the theatre, the out of body experience of 3-D seemed to continue for about a half hour. It was like we were on the inside looking out into the real world. Voices were in the background, and I expected a wreckage inset to pop up any minute.

I was interested in your comments about the difference in 3-D glasses. The type used at the Spectrum are just hard plastic, and the left lens seems darker than the right. These are probably the regular "simplistic" glasses you mentioned. Do the liquid crystal goggles fit right over regular glasses also? We will definitely have to get up to the CityWalk at Universal and experience the difference.

Maybe this has been covered somewhere recently, but why in the world isn't the movie being shown at the IMAX screen at the California Science Museum (when did it stop being called the Museum of Science and Industry, BTW) where they are having the Titanic Exhibit? That would seem like a natural tie in.
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