To What Remains Review – Emotionally Resonating, A Powerful Must See

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To What Remains, recently premiered at the 2021 AFI Film Festival, from Abramorama Partners, presents a powerful documentary that follows Project Recover who comb the South Pacific seas looking to repatriate the remains of the MIAs from WWII.

The documentary begins with a vast shot of the gorgeous Island paradise that comprises the nation of Palau. Stunning coral reefs, breathtaking archipelagos, blindingly beautiful seas in a mix of deep blues, and aqua. Then footage of the same island in black and white appears on the screen: A war zone, a heated battle, the heavy losses suffered both during the raging land battle as well as in the air.

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This is when we are introduced to the backstory of Project Recover, a non-profit dedicated to scouring the sea floor, searching for missing wreckage, bombers shot down during battle and repatriating the remains of the missing fighter pilots who have been listed as Missing in Action for more than 70 years.

The impossibility of the idea, that anything or anyone could actually be found, as we are told is just about how this project became a passion for Dr. Pat Scannon, who leads the growing team of divers and others on this honorable mission.

During a pleasure trip to Palau, Dr. Scannon hired a tour guide, as tourist often do, to see the local waters. What he found on that trip, a single 65foot wing of a crashed WWII bomber, ignited a passion.

To What Remains also introduces viewers to the history of World War II, that many may not know. Major air and land battles raged in the Pacific Theatre, heavy losses, causalities and during that time more than 200 U.S. bombers were shot down in the battles in this region of Palau.

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This is when we understand more than 80,000 Americans are still classified as Missing in Action. Families with no closure, a nation who seems to have forgotten the ultimate sacrifice. We also meet a small team of accomplished scientists, historians, and military veterans who scour the depths of the ocean and the farthest corners of the earth.

Of course, the odds were closer to impossible than probable. The condition of the original impact as the bombers were shot down, which would mean scattered debris field, so after nearly 70 years and sea water corrosion the possibility of locating human remains seemed like a longshot.

Clearly, a patriotic documentary, dedicated to those men and women who left the safety of homelands for distant battlefields and never returned. Here, in this time, the nation was unified against the advancement of tyranny and when the government called the men and women responded.

One of those men, a young Navel aviator, former President George H.W. Bush, then a WWII fighter pilot, flew a bomber mission’s and sunk a Japanese trawler. Scannon used this sunken trawler as a boundary marker for his search missions.

With a successful discovery, the trip gave Scannon the vision to create Project Recover, an organization with a mission to bring home missing-in-action World War II veterans.

Searching for the MIAs, Scannon and his team began to grow, however the ocean was always bigger. Like NASA and the exploration of space, the vastness of the underwater universe was overwhelming the team. Finally, when all seemed lost, they partnered with the University of Delaware and the team was rejuvenated through the technological advancements which created 3D imagery of footage captured through an underwater drone explorer, a torpedo style camera used to search the sea floor. This accelerated the search of the Palau islands.

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To What Remains is a powerful documentary that follows Scannon and a team of professionals, volunteers and other veterans searching for those left behind in forgotten battles. Led by scientific data and personal accounts of war, the team’s perseverance has provided recognition and closure for families over three decades.

The imagery is breathtaking, and emotionally moving. Filmed over several years, archival footage and intimate interviews with Project Recover team members and MIA families, the documentary takes viewers inside this emotional journey to honor our fallen servicemen, from the discovery of wreckage on the seafloor in the South Pacific, to the living room of a stunned family in middle America, to a well-deserved final resting place at home. With each serviceman recovered, we hope for the impossible, the elusive, that all will be found, and all returned home.

To What Remains will be released in theaters in early December timed to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

Powerful, haunting, To What Remains is gripping. Triumphant victories and heartfelt defeats. A must see!

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For more information on Project Recover:


Year: 2021.

Runtime: 81 minutes.

Language: English.

Country: USA.

Director: Chris Woods.

Screenwriter: Mark Monroe

Producer: Dan Friedkin, Ed Shipley.

Executive Producer: Adam Zimmer, Gino Falsetto.

Cast: Project Recover Team

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