I watched an interesting documentary on the ABC this evening, entitled "The Iceberg That Sank the Titanic". Now the sinking of the Titanic on its maiden voyage is so infamous, it passed into popular myth before the Carpathia had even picked up the survivors. Like billions of others, I saw James Cameron's film, which served to reinforce to me that a) teenagers in the early 20th century flipped the bird and shagged in cars, b) giant jewels are worth hanging on to for years and years, just so you can have a poignant moment of self-realisation and drop that sucker in the big wide ocean, and c) Billy Zane is an over-actor. But I've never seen the disaster to end all disasters portrayed in the way this documentary did.
That is, from the point of view of the iceberg. That's right, the iceberg.
Apparently its name was Jimmy, and it had had a rough childhood. Dad left early, Mum turned to the bottle for comfort. It didn't want to drift into the shipping channels and destroy the greatest luxury liner the world had ever seen, but you know, it just couldn't control itself. It was the Titanic's fault anyway. Should've looked where it was going. I mean, the iceberg's sorry about all the people that died, but it didn't drown them on purpose.
I mean, it's a genius concept. Take a well-worn story, revamp it with dramatic shots of icebergs breaking off the side of Greenland, cut with archival footage of the Titanic's construction, add a dramatic voiceover detailing the iceberg's 15 000-year journey from snowflake to compacted ice monster from hell, and describe the entwining fate of the two leviathans. Pow, the BBC throws money at you.
So, with a focus on scoring some of that 'dynamic historical recreation drama series' cash myself, here are some other ideas for documentaries with a quirky never-before-seen angle:
The Black Death - from the point of view of the rats.
It's not easy being rattus rattus. You gotta eat all manner of shit to survive. Then you pick up some dodgy fleas from Outer Mongolia and bam. Throbbing buboes starting to burst out all over your dirty, furry body. The Black Death pandemic of the 1340s is estimated to have cost up to 75 million human lives. But won't someone please think of the rats?
The Reformation - from the point of view of the Islamic world.
What, no more Crusades? You got better things to do now? You gonna argue amongst yourselves now, is that what you're gonna do? You're getting so good at inter-faith wars, you getting into intra-faith wars? Stupid Protestants and Catholics. We Muslims have got saracen swords rusting thanks to a lack of head-chopping-off practice. I guess we gotta turn our attention to maths and medicine and shit. (I don't know when the Caliph of Constantinople became Robert de Niro, but there's your genius casting right there).
The Hindenburg - from the point of view of That Guy who said "Oh! the humanity!"
That Guy who said "Oh! the humanity!" had a lot more to give with his life. But his journalistic career would be forever overshadowed after that fateful May day in 1937, when the LZ 129 airship caught fire while landing in New Jersey. But That guy who said "Oh! the humanity!" in response to the inferno engulfing the magnificent zeppelin would forever be known as That Guy who said "Oh! the humanity!". And that's a tragedy. That's so tragic, it deserves a searing cry of loss and anguish to encapsulate the feeling for all time. But I've yet to come up with something appropriate.
The 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami - from the point of view of a Brisbane radio journalist on a dull Sunday afternoon at work.
What's that story in wires? Something about an earthquake in the Indian Ocean, with nine dead. Oh, that's a shame. A coincidence though - it's exactly one year since that huge earthquake destroyed the Iranian city of Bam and killed 30 000 people. I might do a story on that. (An hour later) Hey, what's this - flash flooding in Sri Lanka? Weird. Wonder if it's got anything to do with that earthquake? Nah, too far away. But better do a story. (An hour later) Oh, the death toll from that earthquake has risen to 100. Not good. (An hour later). Wow, Sky News is reporting several hundred dead and a tsunami. Yikes. (6pm) One thousand dead! Holy shit, this is awful! This is my last bulletin, I hope the death toll doesn't get any worse overnight...