RMS TITANIC: 5 Things James Cameron’s Movie GOT WRONG!
Some details in Titanic were married to fiction, but there’s no doubt the movie remains one of the best interpretations of the catastrophe ever made.
- The sinking of the RMS Titanic remains one of the worst disasters in maritime history, and one of the most tragic losses of human life in the 20th century.
- Its harrowing circumstances provided the source material for James Cameron’s 1997 epic Titanic, which made history worldwide like its namesake.
- The sweeping story and state-of-the-art special effects helped it gross $2.2 billion, and it launched the careers of both Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
# 1 – GOT WRONG: THE MINGLING OF PASSENGERS FROM DIFFERENT CLASSES
There are many scenes involving the mixing of first, second, and third-class passengers.
- They’re allowed to mingle in public areas on board ship that would never be permitted.
- Right up until the last liners with separate classes operating into the early 1970s.
- I know this personally having sailed on the liners France, QE 2, and Canberra. The French Lines, Cunard or P&O would have never allowed it.
# 2 – GOT WRONG: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JACK AND ROSE
Jack and Rose might be praised as one of the most romantic couples of all time, but in all likelihood, they would never have become one during the real Titanic’s voyage.
- Based on the tickets they held, they wouldn’t have been permitted on the same parts of the ship to have never “bumped” into each other on the stern or promenade.
- The concept of a carefree steerage passenger and a stifled aristocrat meeting and falling in love days before a historical tragedy is certainly something out of a modern fairytale.
- Still, there were enough real emotional moments in the catastrophe not to need any additions.
# 3 – GOT WRONG: THE LIFEBOAT DISCRIMINATION
While it made for harrowing cinema to watch first-class passengers weasel their way onto lifeboats while third-class passengers were left to die, the reality was no such lifeboat discrimination happened.
- All hope was lost when it was apparent that White Star Line personnel immediately began helping all souls they could get to safety.
- 60% of first-class passengers were rescued, more than half of the second and third-class passengers combined.
- But this has more to do with their inability to get from below decks.
- This was due to barriers placed around the ship to prevent Third Class passengers going into First or Second Class passenger areas or staterooms.
# 4 – GOT WRONG: THE CARPATHIA WAS THE ONLY SHIP THAT COULD HAVE RESPONDED
Though the RMS Carpathia was the ship that eventually reached the stranded passengers at 4:05 AM on April 15th, it wasn’t the only ship that Titanic sent a distress message to and not nearly the closest.
- The SS Californian was quite close when Titanic sank and would have seen the signal rockets that were fired by its anxious crewmen.
- The Californian wasn’t depicted in Cameron’s film, perhaps because they didn’t answer the calls.
- However, historians debate whether the distress calls signaled the ship sinking, or were in fact, erroneously fired in a sequence that meant “navigational errors, stay clear”.
# 5 – GOT WRONG: MR. MURDOCH’S SUICIDE
Recent evidence from an original inquiry into the actions of Mr. William Murdoch, the First Officer aboard Titanic under Captain Edward Smith, revealed that had he acted just thirty seconds faster, the ship might have averted disaster.
- This contradicts the previous verdict that the ship immediately altered the course but couldn’t prevent the catastrophe because the iceberg was seen too late.
- Regardless of Mr. Murdoch’s actions or feelings of subsequent guilt, he didn’t put a pistol to his head, as depicted in the film.
- William Murdoch perished going down with the ship, and his family’s estate took umbrage with Cameron for describing him as anything less than heroic.