The Empress of Ireland (Review)

I ended up taking a look at a documentary after quite a break from those. I don’t normally review documentaries as there isn’t always a lot to say about them. This documentary was about the Empress of Ireland. It tells the events that caused the ocean liner to sink. The Empress of Ireland was one of the most well known ships of the Canadian Pacific Steamship line. It began its journey from Quebec City to Liverpool, England on the afternoon of May 28, 1914, and sank the next morning, killing over 1000 people. The passengers were celebrities, millionaires, and even members of the Salvation Army.

At first, the documentary introduces its director, Stephan Parent, as he creates a short film reenactment of  what happened before the ship sank. Next Stephan goes with a team of divers to explore the shipwreck and anything else they might find. Then comes the ship’s story, made completely from ancient stock footage, logos/pictures from the time period, and Stephan’s reenactment.

Captain Kendall of the ship advances his vessel through some fog until he notices a ship in the distance and they must move aside for it. Tragically, they aren’t able to, and the ships collide. Kendall believes his ship is condemned and decides to send everyone off on lifeboats.

After that we cut back to Stephan and his team of divers exploring the shipwreck and make some very interesting discoveries. Then back to the historical reason why the ship sank — a rudder that was poorly built. Against a background of actors struggling in the water, a model ship sinking, and on-screen statistics with vintage pictures, it is revealed that the majority of the passengers died, leaving 465 survivors. Surely enough, horror ensues as the news spreads.

The story was very descriptive and I enjoyed learning quite a lot about this ocean liner. A little too heavy on the facts, and it would’ve been a little more of a documentary if we actually had some more footage of Stephan and the divers. The reenactment itself could’ve been a movie on its own. I’m personally a bit neutral minded about this one.

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