Cameron's stupid film


Mar 20, 2007
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Does anyone feel the way I do about James Cameron's film? The real story of the Titanic is fascinating, tragic, heroic, eerie and about a thousand other adjectives I can think of. Why would anyone want to take all that time and money only to make a basically shallow teenage love story. I would much rather have seen the kazillions of $ that were spent on it, instead devoted to filming THE definitive true story of the tragedy. Minus major Hollywood stars. I loved the documentary that was done in several parts a number of years ago by A & E channel (back before it became the recycle king of Murder She Wrote & other commercial TV schlock.
 
Jul 12, 2003
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Personally, I liked the film for what it was.

But we are dealing with Hollywood and money. The studios often take a real event, maybe twist it here and there, and add a story with fictional characters.

Look at all the stuff coming out regarding 911.
 
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Jul 9, 2000
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I don't have a problem with Cameron's film. Quite a few aspects of the story itself left a lot to be desired in my opinion, but in the end, it was still just a film.

Hollywood, not history. I just can't get all that worked up about it.

Considering what it's success enabled James Cameron to do in the realm of real and substantive study and research, I'll take it.
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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I'm rather with Kathleen. Truth is not only stranger than fiction. It's usually more interesting. There were dozens of stories to be told, some of them very romantic.

I think it's significant that the movie doesn't make the top 250 on the Internet Movie Database. Nor does it appear in the professional critics lists of top movies.

Its main value is that it inspired the re-publication of primary source material that was previously very hard and expensive to come by.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Like it or not, but Cameron's "Titanic" raised public consciousness of the ship and her story throughout the world. I daresay this very forum wouldn't exist if it hadn't been for the film.

Yes, I know that the story of Titanic does not owe its popularity solely to Cameron. Titanic-mania hit its peak in the 1950s, after Brackett made his film and Lord published ANTR. It can be argued that that surge in popularity led to the foundation of THS and a new round of research that resulted in a proliferation of books during the 1960s. The story received new life when the wreck was found in 1985. That, in turn, ultimately led to Cameron's film, which, by virtue of its popularity, convinced many to cough up the money to conduct expeditions (almost yearly since the film's release) that have substantially increased our knowledge of the ship, her story and the people who sailed in her.

You can like or dislike the film...it's a matter of personal taste. But to call Cameron's film "stupid" in a forum that was created in the film's aftermath...that's a bit disingenious, in my opinion.

Parks
 
Oct 15, 2006
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According to me, I think that only to see the Titanic with her decks come back to live with her magnificent grand staircase, the luxury of the B-deck suites, the elegance of D-deck reception room and dining room, the cafe-veranda, the first class lounge, the first class smoking room, and her passengers clothed in the wonderful edwardian fashion, it prevents anybody to said this movie is stupid. I hate the love story but do what I do when I watch it, admire the sets and try to spot who each extras play. According to me, Cameron's movie not only brings Titanic in the general interest but he really bring back this wonderful era and this wonderful ship to life...

Sorry for my englsih...
 
Feb 23, 2007
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Well to me I rather agree that it was just a movie. I enjoyed it for many aspects that the casual viewer may or may not have found interesting. Yes it was crass comercialism in the fact of the love story, but it did have many good technical aspects and historically linked stories intertwined. Maybe that was the intention of Mr. Cameron to get people in to the film maybe not, but it worked for me. For those of you that don't know, my Grandfather was a survivor. So I went with different aspirations for the film than many. In my opinion,[take it for what it is worth], it was a chick flick wrapped around a historically significate event. By presenting the story this way it got huge amounts of new interest generated. I give talks to groups on occasion and I can say from my experience that the ones I have given since the movie have generated far deeper questions than before. Of course I do get the ones about Jack and Rose, but that leads me into more discussion of the class differences that alot of people didn't understand.I guess it is like most things in life, you get out of it what you put in. People will always have differing opinions on everything and no two people see things the same. Take care all. Tom
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>I daresay this very forum wouldn't exist if it hadn't been for the film.<<

Well, it might exist, but I would hazard to guess that it would be a mighty quiet place on the 'net.

>>You can like or dislike the film...it's a matter of personal taste. But to call Cameron's film "stupid" in a forum that was created in the film's aftermath...that's a bit disingenious, in my opinion.<<

I'm inclined to agree with Parks on this one. The film's success gave Mr. Cameron the juice to get the backing needed to carry out two expeditions to the ship which have revealed a treasure trove of information about her and a much better understanding of her demise. As Parks pointed out, he's not the only one going out there for a look, and each detailed expedition adds to our base of knowladge.

Would anyone even be bothering had this film not been made? Maybe, but not a lot and nobody would be trying that hard.

As always, your results may vary...wildly.
 
Feb 21, 2005
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I agree that the movie left quite a bit to be desired...by the Titanic researcher, not the "general" public though.

I could even go as far as to say, in my opinion, the love story itself was stupid, but the idea to insert it into the Titanic's story for the film is far from stupid.

Because that's what sells. Youth, good looks, sap, etc are what sell in today's movie market and James Cameron was smart enough to play on that and it paid off. And, as stated earlier, look the real goodies we got in return! 'Ghosts Of The Abyss', 'Last Mysteries Of The Titanic' and a lot of other expeditions that have greatly increased our knowledge of Titanic.
 
J

João Carlos Pereira Martins

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I must agree with you, Matthew! Yes, of course the Titanic true fans and historians would rather prefer a sort of more historic or technical film, related to the ship itself as a machine or to a actual story that happened on board over that silly love story.

But yes, there is no doubt that this film is the most accurate one in terms of both interiors and exteriors of the ship, lacking only in some historical details, like the rules on board (third class in first class areas)and this kind of stuff. Nevertheless, the film as a whole is impressive, particularly the sinking scenes, that had never been represented in such an explicit and dramatic way. This film was certainly a big "jump" for those interested in Titanic.

Best regards,
João
 
May 3, 2005
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>>The interior and exterior sets gave me a truer idea of what everything looked like to scale. It wasn't a stupid movie, just not scholarly.<<

Hear ! Hear !

My idea of the perfect "Titanic" movie (if there should ever be such a thing ;-) :

1. The historical incidents of
"A Night To Remember" (1958)

2. The color, special effects and sets of
"Titanic" (1997)

3. The "fictitious love story subplot" from Wagner-Dalton and maybe even Webb-Stanwyck of "Titanic" (1953)

4. Probably a few other details from other movies plus information gained from later explorations.

Put these all together and you could have a "Terrific Titanic" movie of from...say from 10 to 12 hours in length . LOL.
 
J

João Carlos Pereira Martins

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"...say from 10 to 12 hours in length".

I wouldn't mind going to the cinema to watch it in two different days. The general public would, although.

Best,
JC
 
Jul 9, 2000
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One could do a miniseries on the Titanic which concentrated on the history of the ship and the people who were aboard her. I daresay that James Cameron would be the perfect choice to make the film as well as he's a Titanic expert in his own right. He's done research on the matter going to the greatest of primary sources which is no less then the ship herself.

How many Hollywood directors can say the same thing?
 
Dec 29, 2006
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I would not call Cameron's Titanic a stupid film, as such, although the risible love story that masquerades as its central "plot" could well be described by that adjective. However, it is not the fictional story line that makes people angry about this film - it is way in which it regurgitates sensational incidents such as the officer suicides, which had been invented by the gutter press back in 1912, and had long since discredited.

The supposed suicide of First Officer Murdoch had more or less been forgotten until this film was released, but now, thanks to the gullible nature of many cinema goers, it is regarded almost as an essential feature of the Titanic story. Neither is it acceptable to say "well, it's only Hollywood" - film makers surely have a duty to tell the truth, rather than recycle old myths in the pursuit of private profit.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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quote:

film makers surely have a duty to tell the truth, rather than recycle old myths in the pursuit of private profit.

Stanley,

I'm curious...where did you get that idea? My observation has been that the makers of popular films have a duty only to their financial backers; in the case of feature films like "Titanic," that usually means the studio.

Documentaries, though, that's another matter. The documentaries that I have worked on -- including two by Jim Cameron -- have tried mightily to stay close to the truth as we can perceive it.

quote:

the officer suicides, which had been invented by the gutter press back in 1912, and had long since discredited.

I have been waiting for years for the proof needed to discredit the survivors who claimed either that an officer shot himself or identified that officer as Murdoch. Where did you find that evidence? Why haven't I heard of it before now? I would love to see Murdoch's name cleared, once and for all.

quote:

The supposed suicide of First Officer Murdoch had more or less been forgotten until this film was released, but now, thanks to the gullible nature of many cinema goers, it is regarded almost as an essential feature of the Titanic story.

How has the "Murdoch suicide" scene become an essential feature of the Titanic story? I haven't seen it perpetuated in any respectible documentary or book produced in the wake of the feature film. The only debates I have witnessed regarding the "Murdoch suicide" are among those who are already aware of the evidence behind the fiction.

Allow me to correct myself...the issue WAS brought up in a responsible documentary produced after the feature film. Jim Cameron included imagery of the No.1 davit on the wreck in "Ghosts of the Abyss" and offered it as corroboration for Lightoller's claims about Murdoch's last moments. Cameron's insight comes closest to proving Lightoller's description of Murdoch working the davits until the deck submerged, in my opinion.

Parks​
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Hello Parks,

You are of course quite right; makers of commercial films have an obligation to their shareholders but none whatsoever to the public. I should have said something to the effect that "film makers SHOULD have a duty to tell the truth as they know it".

Regarding the officer suicides, this thread is about the 1997 Titanic film, rather than any of the serious documentaries. As you know, this topic has been raised on numerous occasions, and I mentioned it merely in the context of the recent film.

I did not intend to re-open the matter here, because we can neither prove, nor disprove it. However, it may be worth mentioning that I have looked for information on the Titanic in several British provincial newspapers. This was mainly in an attempt to find information about Oxfordshire crew or passengers but, at the same time, it was very interesting to see how the story would have unfolded to those who were hearing the news for the very first time. To take just one example, The Witney Gazette initially reported the basic fact that the ship had sunk, but in the next issues all sorts of lurid details appeared - including the stories about officers going mad and shooting themselves. One particularly sensational anecdote suggested that Captain Smith had attempted to shoot himself (I think it was in the library!)

All of this information was appearing BEFORE the Carpathia had docked - which surely proves that the stories had been fabricated. In the case of The Witney Gazette, the paper subsequently printed an apology, pointing out that it had obtained the lurid stories from certain American provincial newspapers (some of which it named). You may recall that Lawrence Beesley was similarly disgusted by many of the stories which had been printed by unscrupulous newspapers.

My point is, the stories of the supposed suicides were manufactured by provincial newspapers, and have never been confirmed by survivors - indeed, the most reputable witnesses stated that they did not take place. I would add that suicide, although acceptable in some cultures, was not accepted in Britain - for example, suicides could not be buried in consecrated ground.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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To call James Cameron's Titanic "stupid" is quite harsh and unfair in my opinion. While a lot of areas of the movie are to be desired, I personally enjoyed the movie. It has been repeated many times on here, but if Cameron made a documentary on the Titanic similar to A Night to Remember, rather than the Jack and Rose story, do you actually think it would have made millions and millions of dollars; been the top grossing film for months, broke box office records; caused teenage girls to scream in excitement at the sight of a certain actor, drew the same movie goers back again and again and again, until the film was no longer showing in theatres and been nominated for 13 Academy Awards, which it ended up winning 11 awards?

No, I don't think so.

If Cameron had done the former, the movie wouldn't have grossed anywhere near the amount of money that it did. Sure, it would have appealed to us in the Titanic community, but that's it. Cameron knew that he had to draw in a wide range of movie goers for his film to be successful, not a selective group.

Yes, there were many mistakes in the film and the Jack & Rose story was very tiresome for a lot of people, but that's Hollywood for you. Cameron did an excellent job of bringing the Titanic back to life and for that, I give him a lot of praise.

Plus, the movie got a lot of people interested in the ship who didn't have an interest beforehand and it renewed interest for others. As posted above, the film opened up a lot doors in furthering our knowledge of the great ship in the way of expeditions and documentaries. For that, I will always be grateful to James Cameron.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Stanley,

You will receive no argument from me about the sensationalism of news reporting, then and now. Like popular films, news reporting is in my view essentially an entertainment product, in that the reporting agency has to pander to the Money in order to prosper. I certainly would not rely on 1912 (or 2007) newspaper accounts to understand history. Like a popular film based on historical events (like "Titanic"), news accounts may be useful as a starting place for deeper research but anything beyond that is fraught with risk.

I am also not one to argue that suicide was somehow acceptable in that situation.

I truly and sincerely believe that Murdoch was, as Lightoller claimed, working the falls to launch the remaining collapsible until the ship left him struggling in the water. There is enough circumstantial evidence to settle the issue in my mind. There are others, though, who can point to primary source material (letters, correspondence, etc.) that seem to indicate the possibility that 1) an officer did shoot himself, and 2) that officer might have been Murdoch. I believe that the case for Murdoch's suicide is much weaker than the arguments against, but I can't provide the evidence to eradicate all doubt.

I have heard directly from those involved that there was a moment on the set when Cameron asked his historical advisors if they had enough evidence to state one way or the other if there was an officer suicide. If so, was Murdoch (an already established ship's company character in the film second only to Captain Smith) a possibility? The advisors admitted (reluctantly but truthfully) that the evidence was very much open to interpretation, so Cameron was able to craft a dramatic scene that was built upon historical evidence and didn't contradict proven fact.

Having said that, the backlash against that scene (which played well in the media, as all controversy does) inspired Cameron to take a closer look at William Murdoch. By the time Cameron was able to revisit the wreck, Murdoch to him was no longer a character fleshed out only to fill a dramatic purpose but rather a truly admirable historical figure who probably worked harder to save lives than anyone else on board that night. It was with this fresh appreciation for Murdoch's dedication and professionalism that Cameron took another look at the No.1 davit during a dive in 2001, forever posed to launch another boat, and saw evidence of Murdoch's final actions. I often hear of the disservice that Cameron paid Murdoch in his popular film, but it's rare to hear acknowledgment of his heartfelt tribute to the man in both his Titanic documentaries since. Of course, one was seen worldwide; the others, not quite so. Then again, Cameron was the driving force behind the latter and put all his money into the tools that enabled him (and us, as his virtual passengers) to look about inside the wreck.

I realise that I am steering the conversation from the popular film (the subject of this thread) to the later documentaries. I just cannot evaluate Cameron's motives by looking only through the stovepipe at the period 1995-7. Like any of us, Cameron's understanding of the disaster matured as he continued to dig deeper into the subject. I think that it is only fair to bring up his later Titanic projects whenever his first is criticised. Each of us would expect the same courtesy, I would expect. Yes, Cameron did not paint Murdoch in the most favourable light in his 1997 film, but he later made a connection with tangible evidence that makes the strongest case for Murdoch's professionalism until the end...shouldn't that be acknowledged?

I am unable to look solely at the 1997 film. The story doesn't end there, and I can't pretend that it does. This popular film, this piece of entertainment, gave birth to a more substantial research and exploratory effort that has yielded an amazing amount of fresh information about the ship, the people who sailed in her and the tragedy. Think of what would have happened had the film been a box-office disaster (as many predicted). How successful would RMST have been? Would we have ever seen the interior of the wreck (except for the few brief glimpses provided by Robin)? Would we have found the missing double-bottom pieces? Hard to tell, since it was the popularity of the 1997 film that prompted investors to fund several expeditions (at least 8 since the film's release, not counting "tourist" charters) to the wreck.

Again, I'm not saying that you can't dislike the film; after all, it was really only a piece of entertainment...except for the fact that we're still debating its worth 10 years on.

Parks
 

Jerry Nuovo

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Jan 18, 2003
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I have heard the rumor that the popularity of this movie inspired the Carnival Corporation which just bought the Cunard Line in early 1998,to build the Queen Mary 2.Does any one else know if this rumor is true?
 

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