On April 14, 1912 at 11:40 p.m., the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic. By 2:24 a.m., the ship had reached the ocean floor. Twelve days earlier, when the massive vessel left dock for its first sea trial, nobody knew anything.
Yet that morning of the first sea trial, with a camera capturing what is now the only extant footage of the ship, the Titanic looked as massive and robust as the world thought it would be. Today, for 63 seconds captured by that camera, we can see the ship alive, drifting upright in the water, smoke pluming from its stacks.
Beyond those 63 seconds, this contemporary newsreel, which premiered just six days after the ship sank (an incredibly fast turnaround for 1912), shows us the ship’s captain soon before the launch as well as two of the other ships that participated in the Titanic’s rescue mission.
Finally, in perhaps the most haunting touch, the newsreel displays footage of the icy waters near where the Titanic sank (although there is much debate about just how near). In context, it’s hard not to see the icebergs captured here — still and white though they are — as more than a little menacing.
Next, if you enjoyed this Titanic footage, check out some astounding Titanic facts you’ve never heard before. Then see James Cameron and National Geographic’s fully accurate CGI recreation of how the Titanic sank. And discover five sunken ships even more fascinating than the Titanic.