James Cameron knows a thing or two about how the Titanic sank. National Geographic gave Cameron the opportunity to share that knowledge in a series called “Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron.” Part of that series showed a CGI video of everything that happened as the ship sank—from the initial hit with the iceberg to the ship finally coming to rest on the ocean floor.
The sinking of the Titanic happened in 1912. An audience of 705 people in 19 lifeboats watched the entire, terrifying process occur. Each of the survivors had a slightly different story regarding what happened, which led to the rise of many theories regarding just what the truth actually was. At the time, more credence was given to the testimony of the senior surviving officer, Second Officer Charles Lightoller, who testified that the ship sank whole, despite the accounts of other witnesses who said it broke it half.
In 1985, Bob Ballard, an ocean explorer leading a French team of divers, found the Titanic. When the team got to the bottom of the ocean, they were surprised to see exactly what many of the survivors claimed—the Titanic in two distinct pieces. In fact, there was almost a half a mile between the bow and the stern, clearly proving that the ship had to have broken on the surface of the water before sinking.
James Cameron was part of a team of experts that looked into exactly how the famous sinking happened. They used high powered sonar, HD equipment, and 3D imaging to map out the debris field. Then, working from the ocean floor backward, they modeled out how the sinking would have—forgive the pun—gone down. Surprisingly, or not too surprisingly for those that know Cameron’s detailed nature, the director got the sinking mostly right for his 1997 blockbuster Titanic.