1996 Titanic Miniseries List of Inaccuracies


Nov 3, 2011
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Found this on Wikipedia and I must admit I was laughing as some of these which I hadn't noticed before in the film:

Produced in advance of the imminent James Cameron film on the same topic, this TV version was rushed into production and very hastily completed in order to cash in on the latter's pre-release hype. It premiered over two nights in late November 1996. The first part received high Nielsen ratings, but experienced a huge drop during the second part, because most viewers got turned off by the lackluster production. Since the film was so rushed, it included mistakes and historical inaccuracies which Titanic enthusiasts found inexcusable given the wealth of knowledge about the liner and its occupants available by the mid 1990s.

- There are several errors relating to Margaret Brown. She actually boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg, not Southampton. She was not known as "Molly" until after her death, and in contrast to her portrayal as a raving, oversexed hillbilly, she was in fact an intelligent, well-mannered, social and political activist. She was also much older and less attractive than actress Marilu Henner. Furthermore, she is seen drinking and gambling in the smoking room; in realty, the smoking room was a male-only domain and Brown would not have been there.

-Molly Brown and the other passengers did not go to dinner after boarding the ship as portrayed in the film. They boarded the ship while dinner was being served, and did not have time to eat.

-The first class smoking room did not have a bar. The stewards served drinks and other beverages in a classic waiting fashion.

-Captain Smith uses a rolled out blueprint to explain the ship's perilous condition to Bruce Ismay and the senior officers. According to testimony from survivors, it was Titanic designer Thomas Andrews who did this. Indeed, Andrews, who played a key role in the events that night, is omitted from the movie altogether.

-Captain Smith complains about white rockets being used for distress instead of red. In fact, white is the correct color and Smith would have known this.

-When instructing the wireless operators to send a distress call to other ships, Smith erroneously describes the CQD call as "Come Quickly, Distress".

-The Southampton crowd is shown waving off the Titanic off the starboard side. In real life, they did so on the port side.

-A caption at the end of the film claims that "All attempts to raise [the Titanic] have failed". No such attempt has ever been made.

-The Allison family's nurse was not the child murderer Alice Mary Cleaver. She was Alice Catherine Cleaver, a different woman. Cleaver and Trevor Allison boarded lifeboat number 11, quite late into the sinking, not lifeboat 7, the first one launched. The Allisons were also Canadian, not American.

-There was no organized dancing on the Titanic as depicted in the film. The tango (which some characters perform) originated in the bordellos of Argentina and would have been beneath the notice of the upper classes of 1912, who would have considered dancing during dinner to be inappropriate.

-The Titanic was not booked solid as stated in the film. The first and second class cabins were less than half full.

-John Jacob Astor IV actually had one son and one daughter from his first marriage, not two sons as stated in the film. Astor is also shown to quip: "I asked for ice, but this is ridiculous." This is an urban legend.

-A steerage bathroom is seen during the rape scene, but in reality Titanic's 3rd class had only two bathtubs for use by all passengers. There were no shower stalls as seen in the film.

-J. Bruce Ismay did not participate in the final outfitting of the ship and was not in the boiler room (a location forbidden to passengers) at any time during the voyage. As in most films on the subject, Ismay's role is greatly exaggerated. He did not force the ship's crew to run the liner at breakneck speed. It was in fact a regular practice for ships to cross the Atlantic at high speed. He testified at the Senate hearings on the sinking that had the ship been traveling at its maximum speed, it would have arrived in New York in the middle of the night and would have had to wait up to eight hours for a pilot and customs clearance.

-Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall in fact survived the sinking. Chief Officer Henry Wilde, Third Officer Herbert Pitman and Sixth Officer James Moody are all omitted from the movie.

-While there are various reports of an officer committing suicide late in the sinking, it is not known whether First Officer William Murdoch was the officer in question, if indeed it happened at all.

-Murdoch uses a pair of binoculars to get a better view of the iceberg just after it has been sighted. In reality, due to a mix up at Southampton no Titanic officers had binoculars.

-There were no press conferences held aboard the ship on the day before her maiden voyage. The speech Captain Smith gives the reporters was delivered by him five years earlier on another White Star liner, the Adriatic.

-By 1912, "moving pictures" were well established, so it is unlikely that some characters would be shocked at the concept. Furthermore, it is implausible that Jamie Perse would know of Mary Pickford, who did not become a major movie star until 1917.

-Several passengers visit a service window to receive and send out wireless telegrams. Such a window did not exist on the Titanic; first class passengers sent and received telegrams via stewards, who delivered them to the Marconi operators.

-The Carpathia's deck was not littered with corpses. The majority of the bodies were recovered by the cable ship Mackay-Bennett, which was chartered by the White Star Line for this purpose.

-Californian captain Stanley Lord and its wireless operator Cyril Evans were much younger than the actors who portrayed them. Captain Lord was in his mid-thirties, while Evans was twenty.

-During a sweeping crane shot of the port side of the ship, several mistakes in the design of the set are apparent, including an extra deck house on the poop and forecastle decks; the main mast facing the wrong direction; and the absence of 'B' Deck.

-The First-Class dining room was actually located on D Deck, not on A Deck right below the Grand Staircase as depicted in the film. The actual first-class dining room was painted white, not peaches-and-cream as shown in the film. Access to the dining saloon was gained through two sets of double doors leading from the reception room located at the bottom of the Grand Staircase. In the film, three large arched openings are shown.

-Though Titanic had a Ritz-inspired restaurant, it did not have a two story tea room with revolving doors and huge windows as depicted in the film. There was not enough room on the ship for such a structure.

-The glass dome over the Grand Staircase is omitted, instead replaced by a regular ceiling and chandelier.

-The Morse code lamp was located on top of the bridge, but in the film its location is bizarrely shifted onto the front of the first class promenade deck.

-Sunrise on April 14 at a latitude near 40 degrees north would be before 5:30 am local solar time. It is shown as occurring at 7:00 am, impossible by any reasonable clock setting. Daylight Saving Time was not in use in 1912.

-The ship did not have a brig, or any kind of prison. Furthermore, brig is a naval term and would not be used on a civilian vessel.

-The Titanic was built and fitted out in Belfast, not Southampton as shown in the film.

-Shortly after the ship collides with the iceberg, first class passengers Molly Brown, John Jacob Astor and the fictional character of "Mr. Foley" (loosely based on Sir Cosmo Edmund Duff-Gordon, a real passenger) are shown emerging from the second class entrance at the aft port side of the boat deck. To top off this odd moment, the trio is then shown admiring the passengers tossing around the pieces of ice that fell onto the deck after the collision, even though the ship hit the berg with her starboard side at the bow and the iceberg never even fully reached A-deck, which was a level below the boat deck.


Inexcusable indeed...especially for hardcore Titanic enthusiasts...
 
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Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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Jason:

Not my wish to answer for Antoine but isn't material from Wikipedia allowed to be copied for non-profit purposes?

As to the inaccuracies themselves....yikes!!

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Oct 10, 2010
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Didn't James Cameron's movie come out in late 1997? We got its premiere here in the UK in Janaury 1998, only a few weeks after America. Why did they feel the need to rush when there was a year's gap between the 1996 TV movie and the film?
 
Oct 10, 2010
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-Captain Smith uses a rolled out blueprint to explain the ship's perilous condition to Bruce Ismay and the senior officers. According to testimony from survivors, it was Titanic designer Thomas Andrews who did this. Indeed, Andrews, who played a key role in the events that night, is omitted from the movie altogether.

No survivor mentions seeing Smith and/or Andrews with a rolled-up blueprint.

-Captain Smith complains about white rockets being used for distress instead of red. In fact, white is the correct color and Smith would have known this.

Any color for rockets is the correct color for distress rockets

-J. Bruce Ismay did not participate in the final outfitting of the ship and was not in the boiler room (a location forbidden to passengers) at any time during the voyage. As in most films on the subject, Ismay's role is greatly exaggerated. He did not force the ship's crew to run the liner at breakneck speed. It was in fact a regular practice for ships to cross the Atlantic at high speed. He testified at the Senate hearings on the sinking that had the ship been traveling at its maximum speed, it would have arrived in New York in the middle of the night and would have had to wait up to eight hours for a pilot and customs clearance.

- There is some evidence that suggests that Ismay did pressure the Captain for a high speed run. I don't remember Ismay saying at the Senate Inquiries that the Titanic would be held in quarantine for 8 hours; maybe someone can enlighten me.

-Murdoch uses a pair of binoculars to get a better view of the iceberg just after it has been sighted. In reality, due to a mix up at Southampton no Titanic officers had binoculars.

Where is the evidence that Murdoch used binoculars to see the iceberg? All the senior officers had a pair of binoculars.
 
Nov 3, 2011
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Hello Pearson,

Indeed no survivors mention a meeting taking place in the bridge after the collision. This was also pointed out in 1997 film as well.

Secondly, in 1912 the color White was associated with distress rockets. The inaccuracy pointed out in the film is that Captain Smith states that white was the wrong color, which is indeed false and something I man such as Smith would have known.

There was speculation as to Ismay telling Capt. Smith to increase the Titanic's speed. However, we do not know for sure if this is true or false.

There is no evidence. In fact, as the inaccuracy stated, no one aboard the Titanic had binoculars due to a mix up.
 
Oct 10, 2010
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The senior officers did have binoculars. Lightoller himself said so, and the lookouts said they saw the watch officers using them. I think its in Fleet's evidence but I could be wrong.
 
Nov 3, 2011
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I dunno. Maybe I misread it. Maybe it stated that no one had binoculars that night. I've read in numerous sources though that there were no binoculars. And if the senior officers had them, then where the heck were Murdoch's the night of April 14th. Shouldn't he have had them on watch or shouldn't the Lookouts have been given a pair?
 
Nov 3, 2011
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>>Didn't James Cameron's movie come out in late 1997? We got its premiere here in the UK in Janaury 1998, only a few weeks after America. Why did they feel the need to rush when there was a year's gap between the 1996 TV movie and the film?<<

Apparently there was already a vast amount of hype for James Camreon's film.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>If that were the case, the iceberg may well have been seen sooner.<<

In the actual event, they may very well have done just that. It's a matter of record...per Fleet's testimony if I recall correctly...that the lookouts observed the head of the ship coming around before the phone was answered by whomever picked it up on the bridge.
 
Nov 13, 2014
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-While there are various reports of an officer committing suicide late in the sinking, it is not known whether First Officer William Murdoch was the officer in question, if indeed it happened at all.

James Cameron's movie from 1997 made the same error. In that movie, Murdoch kills a fictional character, (Tommy) and an unnamed passenger. Feeling regret, he salutes to Chief Officer Wilde and puts his gun at his temple. After the shot, his dead body splashes in the water.
 
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Apr 18, 2014
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It is a shame Thomas Andrews was totally omitted here. Truth be told, I didnt like these series that much, due to factual errors. Christophe, you are right. Did you know, that Cameron made an apology to Will's descendants for a bad portrayal of their ancestor? I think the 1996 series was aimed as aperitif for the Titanic fans before the 1997 blockbuster premiere. Yet, this aperitif was not that tasty...
 

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