Narrated by actor Sean Astin (who also executive produced), the film traces the story of the Sultana tragedy from its beginnings just before General Lee’s surrender right up until the present-day formation of the Descendants of the Men of the Sultana organization, a remembrance group dedicated to keeping the memory of the Sultana tragedy alive. Photographs from the era presented in the film are nothing short of extraordinary, allowing the viewer to assign faces to some of the names of the men whose words are heard in spellbinding voice-reenacted diary readings.
These eyewitness reports relay primary accounts of the horrors of war and the incredulity of an unfathomable disaster. The actors reading the soldier’s words bring to vivid life the fear and shock that the soldiers experienced as they watched chaos erupt around them as the Sultana went up in flames.
“…a meticulously produced film and will primarily appeal to history…buffs.”
Remember the Sultana is a vital record since the tragedy has been, we learn, more or less forgotten by time. The death of President Abraham Lincoln having occurred a short time before the disaster on April 15, 1865, and the train carrying his casket made its way across the country back to Illinois; the death of John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin, on April 26, one day prior to the Sultana going down; and the fact that the steamboat corporations influenced the newspapers published up and down the Mississippi River, were several of the factors that contributed to the Sultana disaster not being front-page news in the day.
“History remembers the famous, and so often history doesn’t record the stories of the common people,” author Jerry Potter states towards the end of the film. Remember the Sultana is not a movie one watches for entertainment value: this is a historical piece the likes of which one would find on PBS. It is a meticulously produced film and will primarily appeal to history and, in particular, maritime buffs. Remember the Sultana is a testament that the steamship Sultana tragedy will remain memorialized and not simply relegated to the footnotes of history.
"…a vital record since the tragedy has been, we learn, more or less forgotten by time."