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6 Degrees Entertainment

'NOVA: Arctic Ghost Ship'
(DVD / NR / 2015 / PBS)

Overview: 160 years ago, the Franklin Expedition to chart the Northwest Passage vanished. NOVA is on board as a Canadian team makes a breakthrough discovery of one of Franklin's lost ships--a vital new clue to the fate of the ill-starred expedition.

DVD Verdict: In 1845, a British ship crew went into the northern part of Canada to find the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. No one ever heard of the crew again. However, this documentary discusses a successful attempt to find more. Sensitive viewers must be careful as this documentary does show dead bodies and speaks of cannibalism also.

'NOVA: Arctic Ghost Ship' reveals that this was actually the sixth attempt by the searchers, because the waters this far north are frozen ten months out of the year. However, I liked that this program doesn’t pat itself on the back about surviving danger as many other documentaries would.

The key to so much information came from Inuits. A male and female Inuit were interviewed here. Their oral tradition is what helped to find the sunken ship. The program never mentions global warming and I wonder if so much of this frozen area is all wet, and environmentally messed up, now.

The program goes on to say that last sailors did reach the Northwest Passage and so I kinda felt like this was revisionism. The ships did not make it to the Pacific Ocean. Their travels were never used as a shortcut to trading posts in China, Japan, and India. I don’t think I would conclude with “mission accomplished.”

That said, the work - thankfully - never mentions the 1996 film 'Titanic,' but that film came into my head as I watched this. The searchers used a torpedo to find the sunken ship similar to what “Snoop Dogg” did in the Cameron film. Viewers who enjoy this documentary should also see those on the Greeley Expedition and the missions to scoop Spanish gold from the waters off of Florida. Trust me, PBS know what they are doing and they do it in fine order. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.