Crew Training was Rockets

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Susan Markowitz

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Hi, All... and heartfelt thanks to Cookie, and Ing, and Mike P. for the thoughts and greetings; can't tell you how much that means to me! :) I've been sailing some rough seas of late, but am greatly cheered by your good wishes. The RMS Countess M. remains afloat, and ready for action!

For those who haven't had the pleasure of meeting the Cookster, pray, do not let him mislead you! He is a towering sort -- as is Mark B. (esp. to one as "vertically challenged" as I) but they are a handsome lot, and neither one would be breaking any deckchairs...

As for the matter of crew training -- a fascinating topic (thanks, Maureen!). Ing has taught me that, as regards the crew, it's far more important to concentrate on how they lived than how they died; Titanic was a small, albeit shattering, episode in some very full lives.

Ing is far more knowledgeable than I on this; but some of the officers, like Lights, and Captain Smith, as well, began their careers on sailing ships. Cameron's portrayal of the officers was, IMHO, nothing short of shameful; these were seasoned mariners who had survived prior shipwrecks.

If you're interested, I'd heartily recommend reading Patrick Stenson's biography of Lights, "The Odyssey of C.H. Lightoller". Also, Pat Lacey wrote a highly fictionalized but exciting bio of Captain Smith. And there's an excellent bio of Murdoch called "Goodbye, Good Luck".


As for the specific issue of training and rockets -- afraid I cannot help in that department.

Regards to all -- Susan :)
 
Sep 20, 2000
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"...some of the officers, like Lights, and Captain Smith, as well, began their careers on sailing ships. Cameron's portrayal of the officers was, IMHO, nothing short of shameful; these were seasoned mariners who had survived prior shipwrecks."

Hi, Susan!

No contest, just a request for clarification here. It's been a while since I've watched Cameron's film, and wondered if you could cite specific instances where his portrayal of the officers was "off". I'd like to be able to re-view "Titanic" with these points in mind.

Thanks!
John Feeney
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Some information on the subject of training can be had at a site put together by Kerri Sandberg and Inger Sheil at http://www.geocities.com/athens/Delphi/2622/index.html

Just bring up Merchent Marine in the index window and click on the Quick links tab. Hope this helps. Considering who put this together, I think you can count on finding some very solid information there.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Hey Michael.
Tried the address and checked the way that I types the address, but it does not find it...could I have the wrong address?
http://www.geocities.com/athens/delphi/2622/index.html

Thanks so much Michael, you're great!
Have a wonderful day.
Maureen.
Did you bribe your mom regarding the pics? I looking forward to seeign your cats and studying the pictures to see what books you have.

he he

just teasing you. Get back with me on the site address if you can, thanks.
 
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Thanks John.
I am glad you keep track of which thread that I should be posting to. Soemtimes, I get so caughtup in what is being said that I forget. Thanks so much John. Now, do we all come over to your place for Cheesecake?
MAureen.
happy.gif
 

Inger Sheil

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James Moody was a tall, fair, broadshouldered, cheerful Yorkshireman. Not a slight, dark, dimpled young man.

The actor playing the part has a Southern accent — this sounds more ‘patrician’. A Northern Yorkshire accent would sound too ‘working class’ (although Moody was most certainly not that), and it wouldn’t fit in with the idea of what an English officer was supposed to sound like. There are also some language usages I question (‘Very good, Sir’ as opposed to ‘Aye, Sir’). But then, Cameron could hardly be bothered noting much about Moody — he believed Lowe was the youngest officer (he wasn’t — Boxhall was 28, and Moody only 24).

Moody’s actions are portrayed inaccurately: There is not a single source that suggests he was in the chartroom away from the wheelhouse, having a bit of tea when the iceberg warning came from the crow’s nest then walking ‘unhurriedly’ to pick up the phone. Nor is there any supporting evidence for the idea that Moody served as a roadblock for Murdoch while he hurtled around the bridge (getting tea knocked out of his hand). Murdoch seems to be attempting to execute all the helm orders himself.

Moody is conspicuous by his absence during the lifeboat loading scenes. He is glimpsed in the bridge area behind Smith when Smith receives the news from Bride that the Carpathia is on the way, and he is seen out of focus during the loading of A. The rest of the time — most notably during the loading of the aft port and starboard boats — he is no where to be seen. This is possibly because Cameron depicts events at the lowering of 14 on one side and 13 on the other as occurring simultaneously. Moody was there for both, so it would be impossible for him to be at both sides of the ship at once. Easier to remove him from the equation altogether.

Lowe was anglo-Welsh…no sign of a glorious Welsh accent, as was seen in the movie. He did not enter the lifeboats under the direction of Lightoller or anyone else. At that point, there was no officer more senior than him at the port side aft lifeboats.

Lowe is border-line panic (‘Stand back! Just stand back I say! Just STAND BACK!’). The gunshots are delivered in rapid-fire succession — this is not supported by the evidence. Rather, I contend that his actions were cool and deliberate, and were accompanied by a rather more coherant verbal warning.

Cameron was, I suspect, heavily influenced by Wyn Craig Wade — hence the revision of Lightoller and the elevation of Lowe. Lightoller is physically cast wrong — he is shown as a lean, ascetic man. Once again, we have the wrong regional accent. Jonny Philips’ voice fits in much better with the stereotypical aloof Englishman than that rich voice with a touch of the North in it that Lightoller had.

Lightoller in the movie almost seems to have a nervous twitch — the tension in him is present even prior to the collision, and then afterwards. He was certainly not threatening people on the deck with a gun at #14 — the line ‘shoot you all like dogs’ was given to him (improvised on set, apparently), when it more properly belonged to Lowe. But, as Lowe is a more sympathetic character in Cameron’s world, we simply get to see Lowe looking anguished as he is parting a young couple.

Lightoller was a ship’s officer, accustomed to command of both the situation and his own emotions — he barely seems in control of himself in the Cameron movie.

Pitman and Boxhall are no-shows or next door to it…you can’t determine much about a man when his big moment in the movie is ‘Sir! You can’t come through here!’

Wilde fares rather better. Physically he is the right type, and he is something of a steady, confident presence, albeit rather in the background.

Murdoch, although I don’t agree with the physical casting (Murdoch was a rather slight man — Lord came closest when he called him ‘an agile terrier of a man’), was at least cheerful rather than the rather dour individual we’ve seen in other versions. The portrayal of his actions is reasonably accurate up to a point: He was not forced to work around a seemingly paralysed Moody on the bridge during the collision, though, and he didn’t load every lifeboat he was in charge of without any support from his fellow officers. ‘Sad, sweaty, suicidal Murdoch’, as one person summed it up. However, up until that point the man at least at a smile and was human. Then, however, we get into the suicide issue — I’ll got with Lord on that one, and resist the positive assignation of identity to any one officer.

I fully appreciate that much of the above tailoring of actions and interpretations was deemed necessary by Cameron to fulfil his dramatic needs — hence the addition of scenes such as that where Andrews (one of Cameron’s designated ‘heroic’ figures) informs Lightoller that the boats could be loaded at their full rated capacity. There is no survivor testimony that such an exchange ever took place. I presume Cameron wanted to underline the tragedy of the underfilled lifeboats, and in doing so he inserted a fictitious scene.

These are a few points that spring to mind at 3.40 am, but there’s rather more to be said on the subject. It’s worth noting that members of both the Moody and Murdoch families rejected the movie incarnation of their relatives, the Lowes had quibbles (his son thought the depiction of what Lowe did was reasonably accurate and he thought highly of Ioan Gruffudd, although he did not feel that the man on screen resembled his Dad much), and I’ve also heard that the Lightoller family were decidedly unimpressed.
 

Inger Sheil

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Michael -

Lol! Oh, goodness...that all went up about a year and a half ago. I look at it now and just see a collection of typos :) Kez has a lot on her plate now, and she's too smart to turn me loose with the website (she's seen my technological incompetance at first hand), so changes have not been made. Thank you for the vote of confidence, however - and I suppose it still does give something of an overview of life for a ship's officer at the turn of last century. The section should be titled 'Mercantile Marine' rather than 'Merchant Marine', however. An English officer would be quite disgruntled with the latter term.

All the Titanic's officers save one, Harold Lowe, came up through the system of apprenticeships. By the mid-nineteenth century fewer men were coming up 'through the hawsepipe' as Lowe did (i.e. Boy - OS - AB - Second Mate). The families or guardians of Apprentices often paid a fairly large premium to a shipping company to secure a place for a boy - somewhere in the vicinity of £60-80. While this was supposed to ensure them an education and seatime with a view to getting their Second Mate's Certification from the Board of Trade, as Frank C Bowen wrote:

The treatment which the youngster may expect varies enourmously with the company to which he is bound. Some firms are more than anxious to teach their apprentices all that they possibly can, but others - and it must be admitted that they are still in the majority - find that the system provides them with hands at a very cheap rate, and they work them accordingly.

The certifications issued by the BOT were:

Second Mate
First Mate
Master
Extra Master

There were also certifications for 'steam only', but in 1912 the major shipping lines insisted that their men had experience in sail - all the Titanic's officers, even young James Moody, had spent considerable time in sail.

Prior to an examination it was the custom to go to a cramming school - this is why we find James Moody in March-April 1911 living just down the road from my address in London while he attended the Edward VII nautical school in preperation for taking his Master's. I found the building by chance last weekend - I hadn't gone looking for it although I had the address, as I'd assumed it - like so much of the East End and Docklands - had been bombed out of existance during WWII.

Joseph Boxhall was probably the most formally educated man on the Titanic in matters nautical, and of course his family also had a background in the occupation.

It is worth noting as well that, although much has been made of the WSL's insistance on Extra-masters certification, neither Lowe nor Moody held that certificate (nor did all the Olympic's officers).

This is the usual Dog's Breakfast...

Regards,

Ing
 
Aug 29, 2000
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If you can find a copy of Rostron's HOME FROM THE SEA-you'll get a pretty fair idea of what went into training from apprentice to Master. Am also remembering Bisset's TRAMPS AND STEAMERS which is a little easier to find and Cunard Capt.Grattidge's Captain of the Queens offers some more
insite.
 

Inger Sheil

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Shelley -

Also Frank Bullen's 'Men of the Merchant Service' (published 1900), one of the best titles for an overview - the book is a contemporary source, and is divided into sections dealing with each member of the ship's crew from Master down to Ship's boy. Enlivened with Bullen's extensive experience (lot of personal anecdotes by way of illustrating his points), it's also highly indicative of the mindset among mercantile mariners at the time.

Bestic (Lusitania officer) also wrote about his early days in sail - he only had a steamship certificate, and would never have been given a berth on the Lusitania in the pre-war era. With the shortage of men for merchant service, however, Cunard was forced to take on whoever they could.

Then, of course, there's always Lightoller's book...;-)

Inger
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Inger:

I assume that your response above was intended to "field" my question to Susan, and I appreciate your comments on this, with a few reservations.

First, I don't find it at all unreasonable, much less "shameful", to cast good actors in good roles. Physical likeness and accents are certainly factors in casting decisions, but they should never be THE factors involved. For instance, I've seen both Kenneth Brannock and Sir Laurence Olivier play "Henry V" in film. Both gave VERY fine performances, despite their physical and vocal dissimilarities. (I haven't a clue whether either actually resembled the King). Conversely, I've seen some fairly awful films -- "Moviola", for the few who remember it, comes to mind -- where the cast was entirely comprised of look-alike, sound-alike impersonators, and the result was a disaster. (Not that the film had much going for it, anyway.) So I can't buy into these "doesn't look like / doesn't sound like" arguments. There I think you're being far too restrictive. An actor's trade is to play a role, and play it well. And a good actor, supposedly, can play ANY role. Frankly, if your criteria held across the board, I'd feel obliged to dismiss "A Night to Remember" as rubbish, on the grounds that the actor who played Captain Rostron was physically much more like Captain Lord than the actor who actually *played* Lord.

In other places more circumstance-oriented, I see some of your points, though I'm still uncertain why any of them would be construed as "nothing short of shameful", a question I still direct to Susan. I don't argue that the depictions you point out as in error are such. As for Lowe, your contention is just that, though I certainly won't argue the point -- I wasn't there either, so I really don't know what was going on in Lowe's mind at the time. Nor, if Murdoch was indeed the officer who ultimately committed suicide, could I venture any educated guess at what his physical appearance might have been prior to the act. (Though calm, cool and collected wouldn't be my first supposition.) Your reference to Wyn Craig Wade eludes me entirely -- what revision do you refer to?

Now, mind you -- I'm not saying there aren't erroneous depictions here. After all, the film *is* FICTION, albeit set within a historical framework. But even in Bill MacQuitty's nearly documentary version, almost all of the memorable actions and quotations of the *various* officers get attributed to Lightoller alone. So the question remains: What depictions of the officers prompted Susan's observation of "nothing short of shameful". And I really think only Susan can answer that.

The only scene I can recall which was clearly speculative (as to identity) and quite damning to an officer in question was the depiction of Murdoch's suicide. Whether other families *liked* the depiction of their Officer relatives or the physical resemblance of the actors to them is really beside the point.

Regards,
John Feeney
 

Inger Sheil

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**So I can't buy into these "doesn't look like / doesn't sound like" arguments. There I think you're being far too restrictive. **

I think you’ve missed my point here. I believe that there is a consistency in the casting choices Cameron made. Rather than go for the diversity of English actors that would have better reflected the composition of deck officers, Cameron made choices in the casting of these men that reflects his own prejudices. The individuality of their voices is rolled into one —their voices (in quite a literal sense) become precisely what is expected of the aloof, elitist English officer.

However, Lowe is a Welshman — and this is emphasised by choosing an actor, Ioan Gruffudd, who could produce on demand a splendid Welsh accent. Lowe is one of those officers given a pro-active role — and, like Murdoch, is blessed with not being English (joke is on Cameron there — Lowe’s self-identity was strongly English, and he spoke as an Englishman. I don’t think its any coincidence that the two most sympathetic characters among the officers are Welsh and Scottish.

Had the officers been Irishmen, I believe they would have faired far better.

As for Lowe, your contention is just that, though I certainly won't argue the point -- I wasn't there either, so I really don't know what was going on in Lowe's mind at the time.

I’m sorry — which particular point about my criticisms of the depiction of Lowe are you referring to here? If it’s my characterisation about the portrayal of Lowe as #14 was being lowered, I wasn’t talking about Lowe’s mental processes — I’m talking about the impressions he left on witnesses.

Nor, if Murdoch was indeed the officer who ultimately committed suicide, could I venture any educated guess at what his physical appearance might have been prior to the act. (Though calm, cool and collected wouldn't be my first supposition.)

The ‘sad, sweaty, suicidal’ Murdoch reference was not only to his demeanour as depicted immediately prior to the suicide.

Your reference to Wyn Craig Wade eludes me entirely -- what revision do you refer to?

Wade — whose work I strongly admire, by the bye — was one of the first to critically examine the mythos about Lightoller that had sprung up since 1912. His book presents a very critical look at the Second Officer — IMHO, too critical in many regards. As often happens in cycles of historical interpretation, the pendulum swung too far the other way. However, this is part of the necessary review of past interpretations — the truth about Lightoller lies somewhere between ANTR and ‘End of a Dream’. Lowe, on the other hand, is praised as the ‘most conscientious officer and best all-around sailor aboard’. I’m delighted by the description, but find it rather slighting to other officers — such as Murdoch and young Moody (who is mentioned in the book only in the context of the fatal phone call from to the bridge, and who does not even rate a first name in the index: unlike all the other officers and crew, he is simply ‘Officer Moody’).

But even in Bill MacQuitty's nearly documentary version, almost all of the memorable actions and quotations of the *various* officers get attributed to Lightoller alone.

Oddly enough, I was already aware of this ;-) you might have noticed that the one to suffer most from this was Harold Lowe. I’ve got my own views on the strengths and weaknesses of ANTR, and would happily expound upon them as well.

Whether other families *liked* the depiction of their Officer relatives or the physical resemblance of the actors to them is really beside the point.

I disagree. It wasn’t a question of ‘liking’ — after all, Harold WG Lowe rather ‘liked’ the movie version of his father and was quite happy to see him get some screen time, but that didn’t affect his opinion that the man on the screen didn’t resemble his father. The family members are also in possession of rather more information about the characters and habitual conduct of these men. I didn’t say that their views should be the final verdict, but I most emphatically believe that they and their views should be taken into account in our assessment of these men.

I hopped in on these comments to Susan because I happen to largely agree with her — I was decidedly unimpressed with the way in which the Titanic’s officers were depicted. If you’d rather I kept my views to myself, just tell me do to so. Can’t say I’ll oblige you, though.

Inger
 

Dave Gittins

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Just a small correction. Bisset's book was Tramps and Ladies and covers his first years in steam, including the Titanic affair.

His training in sail is in Sail Ho! His last book is Commodore and concentrates on World War II.
 
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Thanks Dave-this is what I get for not putting on my trifocals-Capt. James B. is sitting on my bookshelf across the room-didn't he receive a knighthood?
 
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The one thing that really amazes me is the preciseness of the testimonies and records and news articles and letters.....from 88 years ago. But a man writes a movie script about two ficticious characters using Titanic as a backdrop and it is suddenly examine the facts time again.

This concerns me because I have stopped working on a personal novel that has nothign whatsoever to do with Titanic but involes a truwe thing that happened to me in my own life, but I have taken the liberty to modify some things not to blast anyone, but to make it more of what possibly could have been a personal testimony from my character's perspective.

Rose and Jack were not real people (phil broke that news to me on his Board-he he), but the character of Rose is depicting her testimony of how things happened. But the truth is, that Rose is telling a story according to Rose, but she uses apparently "hearsay" in her recounting of the activities of that day because in fact, she was not there when Murdoch supposedly shot himself now was she? Wasn't she lookign for Jack or something or saving him or whatever? So she as a Character has just imparted knowledge as a witness to something that she could not have possible seen. Who told her this? Does it matter? In my humble opinion, although this is not real, don't we owe it to ourselves to use the same method of logic whether truth, legend, movie, myth, half truth or false?

But how can one redeem those lost to horribly misrepresented falsehoods, fi that is what they were? I propose that the next Titanic movie portray a "witness", also not real, who takes a view from a different perspective. Same scenario, different view. It could be very effective to show what was "actually" happening (from this person;'s perspective) with the JAck and Rose charatcers in the background...so one can see how there could be different testimonies. This could do more for the Titanic cause than anything.

But this is just my own stupid opinion. (Is that MOSO....starting to get these acronyms down pat.
Just a thought.
Maureen.
 

Inger Sheil

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Maureen -

Not a stupid opinion at all. A long time ago I was involved in a discussion on the issue of narrative method and the narrator - in this case Rose - as authority. Some of the input came from one of the blokes who had worked on 'The Making of...' book, and he made some similar comments about Rose as our 'window' into the story. Experience tells us to expect that what is depicted is the event as a omniscent narrator observed it, but in Cameron's movie the framing narrative device is clearly the reconstruction of events as seen by a single individual.

So what are we watching? A 'reconstruction' rather than a 'recording' of events, subverting what the viewer has come to expect? Does this leave us questioning the depiction of all events that Rose did not witness? What else has she 'reconstructed' - has she idealised Jack (which might explain why he's such an insipid little fop - he's a fantasy male figure).

Rather than reading the movie as an attempt at accuracy, should we rather be looking at it as a glimpse into one woman's personal experience of the disaster and her subjective view of individuals and events? My problem with this is that it runs rather contrary to Cameron's stated intention of giving us a means of accessing the human story behind the disaster - it would rather become a window into one woman's mind. This sits uneasily with Cameron's description of his main leads as 'archetypes' rather than specific characters.

And yes...how does one deal with the damage done? My personal comfort is that many people watching the movie wouldn't associate Moody as depicted with a living, breathing entity of that name. He's about as human as the bridge telemotor, and exists for two purposes: a.) to let Jack and Fabrizio on the ship and b.) to be a roadblock for Murdoch to work around during the collision. Like his fellow officers, he exists as part of the ship's equipment. Only in a few instances do the crew transcend this - for example, when Lowe is allowed to voice the frustration and remorse of the rescue efforts of #14, and when Murdoch is allowed a fleeting smile and chuckle as he sees the young lovers on the well deck.

As for your novel - I wouldn't stop working on this because you've had to modify or adapt some facets of the event or the people involved. What is important is that you remain as true to the spirit of the event - and the participants - as possible. Dramatic necessity is one thing, but (particularly when a Director is stridently proclaiming the 'accuracy' of his work) there is a point beyond which reality hasn't been bent or adapted, it has been broken.

All the best,

Ing
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Thanks Ing.
My concern for my novel is that my purpose in writing it is as an educational piece with a lot of horrible things, that due to circumstances must be played down or made to be something else...but due to my writing of it an dthe knowledge by many that it is based on a true story, it could ultimately hurt people that I would not hurt in the world.

I do not know nay of the details of Cameron and do not know him personally, but as a writer, artist and musician, I know that at times, poetic license takes careers and there can be much carnage left when it is over. I am just wondering what is the right thing to do with this. And this forum has really made me stop and take a look seriously at how my work will impact lives. Is that my right to do that? Or are the lives that may be "saved" from learning from my novel more important? Who knows.

The movie Titanic made many people more aware of what may have been happening on that ship and I believe that amny more people are beginning to question safety and transportation issues more seriously than in the past.
Have a great day Ing.
Maureen.
 
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By the way, "bridge Duty The Officers of the RMS Titanic is the name of the site. If the link doesn't work(Yahoo seems to be having problems today) try your search engine.

Inger, I hope you and Kez can get some time to get back to the site in case it needs some updating...which may well be the case if any new information has turned up. No matter, it's a real gem which I have bookmarked for whenever I need it.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

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