ANTR review

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PeterChappell

Member
Andy

It's often cited as the most accurate depiction of events, despite suggesting the ship went down in one piece which was the consensus at that time. It certainly focussed on the important events rather than getting side tracked into a love story. For me it tended to focus on, and glorify (my fellow Chorley-man) Lightoller rather too much, but there's no doubting he was remarkably tough to survive being immersed in the sea. Perhaps his time working as a cowboy in Canada conditioned him? Of course it's the survivors who write history, so we should be cynical of many accounts. Interestingly, the film included some clips from the Nazi film version of Titanic! It also tended to convey many Americans as British, which might explain why it wasn't a great success in the US.

Have you seen the TV Film Saving the Titanic which focusses on the Engineers and workmen below decks?
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
Andy

It's often cited as the most accurate depiction of events, despite suggesting the ship went down in one piece which was the consensus at that time. It certainly focussed on the important events rather than getting side tracked into a love story. For me it tended to focus on, and glorify (my fellow Chorley-man) Lightoller rather too much, but there's no doubting he was remarkably tough to survive being immersed in the sea. Perhaps his time working as a cowboy in Canada conditioned him? Of course it's the survivors who write history, so we should be cynical of many accounts. Interestingly, the film included some clips from the Nazi film version of Titanic! It also tended to convey many Americans as British, which might explain why it wasn't a great success in the US.

Have you seen the TV Film Saving the Titanic which focusses on the Engineers and workmen below decks?
For me it tended to focus on, and glorify (my fellow Chorley-man) Lightoller rather too much

For the film to work it needed one character to be our main focal point and Lightoller was the most obvious choice. It's not entirely accurate but they were working with what they knew, and I won't criticise them for that.

but there's no doubting he was remarkably tough to survive being immersed in the sea. Perhaps his time working as a cowboy in Canada conditioned him?

I don't think so.

His experience of more than twenty years service at sea in sail and steam, surviving typhoons, hurricanes, malaria and a being marooned for several days on a desert island during a previous shipwreck probably were more relevant to Lightoller. He was one tough bloke and just what the men aboard Collapsible B needed, a no-nonsense leader, had they been left to themselves they would likely have had the same survival rate as Collapsible A.

It also tended to convey many Americans as British, which might explain why it wasn't a great success in the US.

There was a practical reason for that. There was only a small pool of American (and Canadian actors) working in the British film industry (and even less contracted to Rank) during the fifties, so there weren't enough to play the parts required.

It wasn't a blockbuster in the USA, but it did do moderately good business and was re-released a couple of times in the sixties. It wasn't a failure.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
For the film to work it needed one character to be our main focal point and Lightoller was the most obvious choice. It's not entirely accurate but they were working with what they knew, and I won't criticise them for that.
I have to disagree Seumas, my friend. I think they could have done better by being more realistic with the character. I may be a bit biased beacuse of my passionate dislike of Kenneth More but as Lightoller in ANTR he is seen everywhere doing everything. The character comes across as annoying for the most part, especially in the immediate aftermath of the collision, when he is seen on the bridge with that very artificial "benevolently calm" expression on his face and doing some sort of repetitive movements with his hands as Captain Smith is giving orders. Murdoch's character is made to fade into the background while Lightoller is shown hyped-up, noisy and leaping athletically from lifeboat to lifeboat.

Don't get me wrong. Despite the inaccuracies, I like ANTR because it has its heart in the right place unlike Cameron's big-budget pseudo love story. But More/Lightoller put me off right from the start. With the exception of Reach For the Sky, More's performance has never risen above mediocre - yes even in Genevieve where his artificial raucousness gets on one's nerves.
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
I have to disagree Seumas, my friend. I think they could have done better by being more realistic with the character. I may be a bit biased beacuse of my passionate dislike of Kenneth More but as Lightoller in ANTR he is seen everywhere doing everything. The character comes across as annoying for the most part, especially in the immediate aftermath of the collision, when he is seen on the bridge with that very artificial "benevolently calm" expression on his face and doing some sort of repetitive movements with his hands as Captain Smith is giving orders. Murdoch's character is made to fade into the background while Lightoller is shown hyped-up, noisy and leaping athletically from lifeboat to lifeboat.

Don't get me wrong. Despite the inaccuracies, I like ANTR because it has its heart in the right place unlike Cameron's big-budget pseudo love story. But More/Lightoller put me off right from the start. With the exception of Reach For the Sky, More's performance has never risen above mediocre - yes even in Genevieve where his artificial raucousness gets on one's nerves.
The problem was, Arun, that British filmmaking techniques in those days were very rigid and stuck to a formula, they didn't like to try anything radical. This system could still produce some gold (such as the "Ealing Comedies" which are still wonderful to watch) but it was still very old-fashioned in its approach to story telling. Thankfully, the sixties saw some sweeping changes where all that was concerned.

The only British based filmmakers active in 1957-58 who could have made a more objective "outside the box" ANTR were David Lean or the great partnership of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. As a devoted Powell & Pressburger fan, I would love to have seen what they would have made of ANTR !

Lightoller was also, to put it bluntly, one of Walter Lord's favourites (other examples would be Edith Russell, Margaret Brown & Archibald Gracie) so he was going to be their man to focus no matter what.

There was also another factor to consider - Sylvia Lightoller. She was closely involved with production and wanted to make sure her husband was the main man. She had become friends with Walter Lord and was giving frequent newspaper interviews at the time. Furthermore, she was a very headstrong, outspoken kind of person and could have caused MacQuitty and Co trouble had they downsized Lightoller's role or portrayed him negatively.

One curious thing about Lightoller is that none of the films have got his accent right ! He spoke with quite a deep Lancashire accent, rather like Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the current Speaker of the House of Commons.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
As a devoted Powell & Pressburger fan
Same here. Not all of their films are good but some are classics

- Life & Death of Colonel Blimp
- A Matter of Life & Death (Stairway to Heaven to our American friends)
- The Red Shoes
- Tales of Hoffmann
I would love to have seen what they would have made of ANTR !
THAT, I am not sure. If I was asked to appoint a British Director to make a Titanic film in 1958, I would have called Sidney Gilliat

But I do have a bone to pick with ANTR for 2 reasons. First, unjustfied glorification of Charles Lightoller and second, giving that role to Kenneth More. I have this theory that the only role Kenneth More was perfectly suitable to play was that of a not very bright Bishop; I don't know if he ever did. For me, there should have been less of More in ANTR (Pun intended)
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
More was seen as a sort cheery "everyman" character in fifties British cinema wasn't he ?

Maybe a more tough, steely type like Stanley Baker would have been a better fit for Lightoller ?

I do think that Sylvia Ligtoller would have raised hell and acted quickly to get the press on her side if Lightoller was portrayed in anyway negatively, by all accounts she was fiercely defensive of her deceased husband.

Some of what I've read on Dan Parkes excellent website makes me think that although he was credited as a technical advisor, Joseph Boxhall wasn't really the active, enthusiastic participant in the filming that the late Bill MacQuitty would have had us believe.
 
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PeterChappell

Member
One curious thing about Lightoller is that none of the films have got his accent right ! He spoke with quite a deep Lancashire accent, rather like Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the current Speaker of the House of Commons.

This is hardly surprising since like me they were both brought up in Chorley (or three miles away in the case of Hoyle)! Perhaps a working class accent isn't the image the filmmakers wanted to portray for such a 'heroic' officer!

His experience of more than twenty years service at sea in sail and steam, surviving typhoons, hurricanes, malaria and a being marooned for several days on a desert island during a previous shipwreck probably were more relevant to Lightoller. He was one tough bloke and just what the men aboard Collapsible B needed, a no-nonsense leader, had they been left to themselves they would likely have had the same survival rate as Collapsible A.

Yes all that made him tough, but how many of these were in freezing conditions? I was thinking of those that prepared him for hyperthermia such as bracing the outdoor winter in the Canadian interior. He is reputed to have dived into water at 28 F, drawn underwater by the sinking ship on two occasions, swimming to the collapsible in water, then spending the rest of the night out in the freezing cold air, and later wind, with soaking clothes. Some people seem to be especially adapted to it, particularly Charles Joughin the Master Baker. It's amazing how many survived immersion. Water that cold is supposed to immobilise if it doesn't kill instantly, but perhaps the body can learn to adapt to such thermal shock?
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
He was one tough bloke and just what the men aboard Collapsible B needed, a no-nonsense leader, had they been left to themselves they would likely have had the same survival rate as Collapsible A.
IMO, it is bit unfair to compare survival conditions on Collapsible B with Collapsible A, although I accept that you were not actually doing that but talking about Lightoller's leadership. Yes, he was one tough dude (besides the examples you gave, wan't he also involved in the Yukon Gold Rush as a young man?) and his leadership on board the overturned Collapsible B had a lot to do with keeping up the morale of the others.

BUT Collapsible B, although capsized, was dry at the top and those who managed to get on board - even those who had to swim for it - would have stopped being exposed to the icy sea. Huddled together as they would have been on top of the boat, their own body heat and those of their companions would have helped to keep their core temperatures at a reasonable level.

Collapsible A on the other hand, though upright, was already waterlogged when it floated free because the canvas sides could not be pulled-up; Fireman John Thompson was unable to plug it properly due to his burnt hands. Almost everone who got on board had to swim for it and then there were several hanging onto the sides without the strength to climb on board. Beattie, O'Keefe and a few others were pulled on board but by then were hypothermic and almost in a stupor, and eventually died on board. The weight of the remaining hangers-on was pulling the lifeboat lower, making waterlogging worse. Even after the last of them lost their grip and floated away to their deaths, those left alive on Collapsible A were knee deep in icy water.

Perhaps a working class accent isn't the image the filmmakers wanted to portray for such a 'heroic' officer!
You could be right. But just to take-up that point in a very different situation 3 years later, I have read that Captain William Turner of the Lusitania had a slight working class accent. Not sure if that was correctly depicted in the TV movie version of that sinking.

Yes all that made him tough, but I was thinking of conditions that prepared him for hyperthermia; that is diving in, being drawn underwater by the sinking ship on two occasions, then swimming to the collapsible in water at a temperature of 28 F, then spending the rest of the night out in the freezing cold air, and later wind, with soaking clothes. Some people seem to be especially adapted to it, particularly Charles Joughin the Master Baker. It's amazing how many survived immersion. Water that cold is supposed to immobilise due to shock if it doesn't kill instantly.
I don't believe Joughin or anyone else was - or could have - "adapted" to that sort of hypothermia risk. Yes, very fit men like Lightoller or Abelseth (on #A) might have had slightly better endurance than most others, but immersed in freezing water for any length of time that difference would not have been much. No one could have survived for longer than 20 to 25 minutes being fully immersed under those conditions, certainly not Joughin, who as the Chief Baker who liked his tipple, probably did not rank very high on the fitness list. His story of remaining half immersed in the sea for 2 hours before being pulled-up by Maynard is very much embellished and cannot be even close to the truth.

But those who survived on the waterlogged Collapsible A, while severely frostbitten, would have had a couple of factors that saved them till Lifeboat #14 with Collapsible D in tow came along to help. Although the water that had leaked into the bottom of the boat was as cold as the sea to start with, the body heat from the legs of those on board would have raised it temparature by a few degrees. They would laos have been moving about a little, priodically lifting one leg and then the other to massage it etc, allof which would have helped. Still, the water was cold enough to cause frostbite but at least for those who managed to keep the upper three-quartes of their bodies dry, not cold enough to cause hypothermia.
 
Steven Christian

Steven Christian

Member
Andy

It's often cited as the most accurate depiction of events, despite suggesting the ship went down in one piece which was the consensus at that time. It certainly focussed on the important events rather than getting side tracked into a love story. For me it tended to focus on, and glorify (my fellow Chorley-man) Lightoller rather too much, but there's no doubting he was remarkably tough to survive being immersed in the sea. Perhaps his time working as a cowboy in Canada conditioned him? Of course it's the survivors who write history, so we should be cynical of many accounts. Interestingly, the film included some clips from the Nazi film version of Titanic! It also tended to convey many Americans as British, which might explain why it wasn't a great success in the US.

Have you seen the TV Film Saving the Titanic which focusses on the Engineers and workmen below decks?
Probably why so many people mself included believed she sank in one piece until Dr. Ballard found the wreck. Still a good movie though. Have it on my DVR. Doubt that it will happen in today's movie world but it would be cool to see it remade with today's movie magic and the updated we info we now have. Cheers.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Doubt that it will happen in today's movie world but it would be cool to see it remade with today's movie magic and the updated we info we now have.
Still possible. It needs a no-nonsense script (Guy Hibbert or Chuck Hogan IMO) and a no-nonsense director (Gavin Hood or Paul Greengrass).
 
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PeterChappell

Member
People have different physiologies, and in rare cases can survive extremely low temperatures for long periods.

Anna Elisabeth Johansson Bågenholm survived after a skiing accident in 1999 left her trapped under a layer of ice for 80 minutes in freezing water. During this time she experienced extreme hypothermia and her body temperature decreased to 13.7 °C (56.7 °F), one of the lowest survived body temperatures ever recorded in a human with accidental hypothermia.

Guðlaugur Friðþórsson is an Icelandic fisherman who survived six hours in 5 °C (41 °F) cold water after his fishing vessel had capsized and furthermore trekked, for another three hours, across lava fields to reach a town for help in freezing conditions. Guðlaugur's body temperature was below 34 °C (93 °F) yet he showed almost no symptoms of hypothermia or vasodilatation, only of dehydration. Two physiologists later demonstrated that the 23-year old, 125 kg (276 lb) Icelander had phenomenal resistance to cold.

This is also an interesting read, which confirms some of what Arun said above, although it doesn't apply to the rare extreme cases I mentioned above.
Over 50 percent of the people who die in cold water die from drowning following cold incapacitation
So this is the main danger, not hypothermia or shock. Also

without some form of flotation, and in not more than 30 minutes, the best swimmer among us will drown in cold water.
All this suggests that if more lifeboats had returned, they might have been able to save people who had not yet drowned through incapacitation.

With regards to Joughin, alcohol is supposed to make people more susceptible to hypothermia, although this says nothing about incapacitation
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
In some instances, like the rare cases that you have quoted above, the prevailing conditions might produce something very close to controlled hypothermia like that used for certain types of surgery. That would be the reason why those two people and others like them survived. But looking specifically at the Titanic situation, such "pseudo-controlled" conditions did not exist and people died of exposure.

Over 50 percent of the people who die in cold water die from drowning following cold incapacitation
True. With hypothermia, a state of stupor or near-unconsciousness occurs which often results in the subject stopping swimming and eventually drown. But (again) specific to the Titanic, that would have applied to only those who were not wearing their life vests. The upper bodies of those wearing vests would have remaned above the water and so they would have died of exposure rather than drowning.

All this suggests that if more lifeboats had returned, they might have been able to save people who had not yet drowned through incapacitation.
Theoretically true, but by the time the lifeboats did return, those in the water would have been exposed for at least 10 minutes already. In those very dark conditions, it would have been hard for potential rescuers to spot live people from those dead among the hundreds of bobbing heads all around. Perhaps they shuld have tried, but how many they could have saved is difficult to tell.
 
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PeterChappell

Member
Good point about the life vests, but the link suggests cold incapacitation is a different condition to hyperthermia. Hyperthermia takes a much longer time. In fact because so many had life vests the link suggests many people may have been alive for some time, but unable to move and speak, and certainly incapable of rushing the lifeboats. This is the graph from that source for hyperthermia.

chart.webp
 
Steve Dunham

Steve Dunham

Member
Many years ago Yankee magazine had an article titled something like "You're Not Dead Until You're Warm and Dead," but I didn't see it in my old issues of Yankee and didn't find it online. As I recall it was about rescuers fishing people out of icy water: people who, because of the length of immersion, would be presumed dead, but who recovered after being warmed up.
 
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