James Cameron’s Titanic: What’s True? What’s Not?


On April 14, 1912, the Titanic sank in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. And 85 years later, James Cameron turned the tragedy into one of the highest-grossing, award-winning, and shocking films in movie history. ‘ Titanic ‘, released in 1997, was a phenomenon thanks to its incredible special effects at the time, its great lead performances and an epic romance ‘made in Hollywood’ that, to the rhythm of Celine Dion’s ‘My heart will go on’, he had half the world sobbing in the movie theater.

Of course, Cameron knew how to make his mark on the history of the medium. Now, as with any real story that is brought to the big (or small) screen, a question arises: How much of what we see corresponds to reality and how much is there of creative licenses? We imagine the basics, you already know: yes, of course, an ocean liner baptized as Titanic sank, causing the death of hundreds of people and recording an event for history. But there are many more details to analyze in this transfer of the real event to the fictional film.

We review what is real and what is not in ‘Titanic’, from its characters to its most iconic images.

Rose and Jack never existed, but some minor characters did

Unfortunately, the incredible love story between Rose and Jack didn’t really happen, nor did their characters really exist. It was all an invention to create the romantic center of ‘Titanic’, but much has been speculated about what was behind its creation.

Yeah the underwater shots were real

Indeed, most of the underwater shots in which we see the remains of the Titanic are real. In 1995, during the preparation of the film, James Cameron hired the Russian vessel ‘ Akademik Mstislav Keldysh ‘ and its two submersibles. The director was keen to go as far as possible with his research, so he made a total of twelve dives with the goal of shooting images of the sunken ship on the bottom of the northern Atlantic Ocean. The result, as we know, was spectacular, and then they were combined with scenes of the actors reacting to the discoveries. It wasn’t easy to get this far – special chambers and housings were designed to withstand the water pressure, but with them, you could only shoot twelve minutes of footage down there, despite the fact that each dive lasted about fifteen hours. So although we do see the actual remains of the Titanic, not all of them are.

Did you really crash because the director of the company asked you to go faster?

There is no clear answer, since, after the disaster, there were many theories, statements and accusations. In the investigation that was carried out in the United States Senate, the director of White Star Line, Bruce Ismay (played in the film by Jonathan Hyde) assured that the boat never reached the maximum of its power, that it never exceeded 75 revolutions, with a maximum of 78. It was not too far, of course. But what tangled the case were the different statements of the witnesses and those involved. Survivors among the passengers claimed to have heard Ismay pressuring Captain Edward Smith to go faster. As we see it in Cameron’s film: the reputation of the boat could improve if it exceeded the expectations that were had about it. However, the ship’s officials rejected this version of events and dismissed the passengers’ statements as “unreliable”

Believe it or not, the string quartet did play as the ship sank

It seemed the most dramatic gesture that Hollywood could invent: while the Titanic is sinking into the ocean, with hundreds of people trying to save and running back and forth on the deck, a string quartet, which enlivened the nightly evenings of the place, gets to touch. Does music calm the beast? And what about shipwrecks? Surprisingly, this detail from the movie is completely real: violinist Wallace Henry Hartley, leader of the brass band on the Titanic, decided to play classical music to give the moment more drama. Survivors of the event recalled that he played ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ and ‘In the shadows’, among other songs. Both he and the rest of his companions died that day.

No, Officer Murdoch neither took bribes nor committed suicide

Much controversy broke out in the small Scottish town of Dalbeattie when they saw the super successful ‘Titanic’ in theaters in 1997. And this is the place of origin of officer William Murdoch, one of the Titanic workers who died in 1912. His relatives and descendants found his portrait in the James Cameron film downright insulting and are that his real figure was used to create a dramatic vehicle full of falsehoods. There is no record of Murdoch taking bribes to sneak wealthy men into lifeboats, nor is he known to commit suicide after shooting. According to eyewitness testimony, one officer did commit suicide, but it is not certain that it was Murdoch.

Yes, an elderly couple decided to go down with the ship (but not in bed)

One of the most heartbreaking and iconic images of ‘Titanic’ is this of two old men cuddling in bed, feeling how the water invades their cabin. Preparing for death, but together. One of the best moments of the film is based on the true story of Isador and Ida Straus, a couple of first-class passengers who decided to stay on the ship as it sank.

No, Rose’s blue pendant didn’t exist

Unfortunately, the Heart of the Ocean was only a McGuffin in ‘Titanic’, a narrative tool and not a real object that had any kind of relationship with the ship. In Cameron’s film, it is what leads Brock Lovett ( Bill Paxton ) to explore the remains of the Titanic, meet an elderly Rose, and discover the incredible love story that lived on board.

For further updates on ‘ Titanic ‘ stay tuned and keep reading “marketcapitalize.com”.


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