W-B film series commemorates centennial of Titanic disaster

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Bill Thomas, Arts & Entertainment Editor

For many, when thinking about the Titanic in cinema, the first thing that comes to mind is the James Cameron-directed 1997 epic. A new film series being offered at Wilkes-Barre Movies 14, though, may just change that.

From Thursday, March 22 to Sunday, April 15, the downtown multiplex will present “A Titanic Experience,” a series of five films, one screening every Thursday at 7 p.m., with the exception of the Sunday, April 15 date, which will mark the 100th anniversary of the night the Titanic sank back in 1912.

The films included in the series will be the documentaries “Titanic Tech” (2003) and “Ghosts of the Abyss” (2003), and the fictionalized docudramas “A Night to Remember” (1958) and “Titanic” (1953). In between the latter two will be blockbuster adventure film “Raise the Titanic” (1980), based on the Clive Cussler novel.

More than just an opportunity to see a series of classic motion pictures up on the big screen, however, the series also promises to be an educational experience, with introductions and discussions led by Penn State Wilkes-Barre communications instructor Bill Bachman.

“I’m going to guarantee that everyone who walks out of the series at the end of the fifth week will be a semi-professional on the Titanic. People will learn so much about that ship than they ever thought possible,” Bachman said.

“I felt it was necessary to give everyone a foundation in the first two weeks. What the heck was the Titanic? Was it unsinkable? In the second week’s screening (Ghosts of the Abyss) we can see it literally dissolving into the ocean floor.”

The series will also feature a few special guests, including Penn State Wilkes-Barre chemistry professor Dudley Snyder and engineering instructor Jon Carson. It is the April 15 screening’s guests, though, that Bachman is most honored to have present.

“At the conclusion of the movie on April 15, I will introduce two families in the audience, one from Wilkes-Barre, one from Plains, both of whom had relatives on the Titanic,” Bachman said. “They will speak for several minutes and we’ll conclude the whole thing with a memorial service, 100 years to the day the Titanic sank. We’ll never get a chance to do something like this, not ever.”

Though the series is being offered as a class to students of Penn State Wilkes-Barre, it is open to the public and Bachman encourages both students from other schools and non-students in general to check it out.

Non-Penn State students can attend the screenings either for their own pleasure or for the benefit of receiving a continuing education credit from Penn State Wilkes-Barre, which Bachman also encouraged non-Penn State students to talk to their advisers about transferring to their home schools.

Anyone interested in participating in the series should register as soon as possible. Registration can be done online, by mail or in-person at the inaugural March 22 screening. Registration ends Thursday, March 29.

Cost is $40. To register, go to wb.psu.edu/ce. For more information, contact Rachel Rybicki by phone at 570-675-9269 or by email at [email protected] .