The American Experience: Panama Canal (2011)

The American Experience - Panama Canal Documentary

This American Experience documentary film takes us back into history, back in the 19th Century when the Panama Canal opened, connecting the world’s two largest oceans and signaling America’s emergence as a global superpower. When the French had failed, it was America’s ingenuity and innovation and advancements in technology that made it the leader.

This American Experience documentary film shows that the ships that move through this ship canal are as huge as skyscrapers and carry tons of loads and have to move fast with their short deadlines. The timing and precision of working of the Panama Canal is incredible. Although it is the quintessence of man’s upper hand over nature and gestured to the beginning of America’s domination of world affairs, America has sacrificed a lot to achieve this status.

Narrator Tom Cotcher has made an admirable presentation of the construction and expansion of the Panama Canal. This film also shows the challenges faced by the Panama Canal as the needs for man increase. In the 19th century, when not more than a thousand ships would cross, now the count crosses fourteen thousand.

The magnanimous operation of the Panama Canal is not a simple task and requires high-tech tools. Its navigators use specialized laptops, fitted with GPS. Any unsightly signal can be a day-mare, like navigating too close to another ship in which case the navigator has to multitask.

Facing challenges all the time, the Panama Canal is currently challenged by water issues, capacity issues, efficiency and maintenance issues and there’s always competition. Despite all of this, the Panama Canal is seen as a majestic and revered structure and this American Experience documentary film has given tremendous information and insight on it.

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