Ghosts of the Abyss | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Ghosts of the Abyss


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James Cameron, director of Titanic (1997), explored the wreckage of the fabled ocean liner while preparing for that film, and in summer 2001 he returned with a team of camera operators, illustrators, historians, scientists, and explorers to create this exhilarating large-format documentary. Among the state-of-the art gadgets designed for the project were lightweight digital 3-D cameras and a pair of remote-controlled vehicles, each the size of a suitcase, that could withstand the pressure of the deep sea. This hour-long feature, edited down from 900 hours of footage, is both a technical marvel and a heartfelt memorial to those who died when the ship sank in 1912. Actor Bill Paxton, a member of the diving team, narrates, guiding the viewer through the eerie calm of the ship, up its grand staircase, and into its luxury staterooms. The experience couldn't be more realistic, though Cameron also superimposes imagery of passengers recalling the fateful night, to haunting effect. Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand, Friday through Thursday, April 11 through 17, 312-595-5629.

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