Just when you think you have seen every possible movie concerning the Titanic, another movie or teleplay raises its head. This time it is Titanic: Blood and Steel, a 12-part miniseries about the building of the great ship. This elongated tale concerns the men and women who were behind its construction and impact. A multinational cast brings the story to life with real life historical characters sprinkled in with the fictitious ones.
In the first few episodes the audience is introduced to Dr. Mark Muir (Kevin Zegers), a metallurgist who has been hired by J. P. Morgan (Chris Noth) to work on the construction of the Titanic in Belfast, Ireland. At the shipyards he reports to Lord Pirrie (Derek Jacobi) who is in charge of the shipyard of Harland & Wolff. It is Muir's job to analyze the materials being used in the construction of Titanic and make sure they are the best ones for the job.
At the same time that Titanic is being constructed there is an attempt to unionize the workers. This movement faces difficulty due to the tensions between the Protestants and Catholics who both work on the docks. Although we know the ship will eventually be built and will sail, it is interesting to see the tensions behind its ultimate construction.
Zegers makes an interesting choice for the lead role. He is virtually unknown in this country. If he has any fan recognition at all it is from his days as the young star of the Air Bud series. Still he has a magnetic charm in this role and if enough people see it, it should have a dramatic impact on his career.
Alessandra Mastronardi plays Sofia Silvestri, a young woman who works in the offices at the dockyard. Fairly quickly we begin to see a potential love affair brewing between her character and Muir's. Mastronardi is totally appealing in this role and she and Zegers have solid chemistry between them.
Also adding star power to the miniseries is Jacobi. He is such an accomplished actor that he can steal any scene in which he appears with barely a lift of his eyebrow. As Lord Pirrie, he is a man torn between the rights of the individuals who work for him and the pressure to build an enormous ship as quickly as possible. Jacobi allows us to see Pirrie's inner conflicts.
The show starts off a little slowly as the large cast of characters is introduced. Noth and Neve Campbell are shown to be two of the "stars" of the miniseries but they have very little screen time in the first few episodes. It is pretty much Muir's story all the way. For those characters who survive the episodes building up to the launch of the Titanic, there is still the question of who will survive the maiden voyage.
If you like in-depth presentations of stories, you will appreciate Titanic: Blood and Steel more and more as it moves along. It has been quite a while since we have had such an extended telling of a story. So do not let the initial slowness dissuade you from watching the entire number of episodes. In the end you will be pleased you did.
"Titanic: Blood and Steel" premieres Monday, October 8 at 9PM on Encore. Two one hour episodes will air back to back each night at 9PM through October 13.