Did the Titanic disaster help out the development of cinema?

Dan Kappes

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Every film about the Titanic seems to be groundbreaking in some way for cinema.

The first feature-length films about the disaster were Saved from the Titanic and In Nacht Und Eis, which were both released a few months after the sinking.

The first sound film about the disaster was 1929's Atlantic.

Nazi Germany made a propaganda film about the sinking in 1943 which was the first film about the ship to use singularly the title Titanic.

The 1953 Titanic movie was the first Hollywood version of the sinking.

In 1958, the docu-drama British film A Night to Remember was adapted from Walter Lord's true account of the disaster, and it still is regarded as the most accurate film about the disaster.

In 1980, the thriller film Raise the Titanic became one of the biggest box office bombs of all time, despite being based on a best-selling novel.

And, of course, in 1997, Hollywood built a near full-scale replica of the ship for James Cameron's film and it was the most expensive and highest-grossing film of its day.

The Titanic has also been featured in many television shows.

Did the sinking of the Titanic inadvertently help cinema become the format it is now over the past hundred years, and would it still have developed in a similar way if the Titanic hadn't sunk?

Or did the sinking not really affect the medium at all except to create a dramatic and compelling story that would be perfect to make a movie of?
 
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Harland Duzen

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Not too sure if the Titanic affected filmmaking in any technical way (although the use of models and later extensive CGI in the 1997 film was probably revolutionary at the time), but one likely outcome is that the films (again mainly the 1997 one) probably inspired Hollywood to make a lot more disaster / romance films since they were shown to be extremely popular and successful.*

At the very least, we can say the Titanic has been made into both the best and worst films ever made. ;)

*Also on an unrelated note, not certain, but I've heard it theorised that the Titanic's discovery in 1985 went on to inspire Hollywood to make a lot of horror films set underwater in the 80's (like James Cameron's Abyss in 1989).
 

Seumas

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Other's have made the point in the past that the Titanic "story" has got pretty much everything - danger, romance, period setting et al - so you can see why it's proven to be catnip for film and tv writers.

There was a (Danish ?) feature length film called "Atlantis" made in 1913 that involves a liner hitting a derelict (rather than an iceberg) and sinking with lots of high drama ensuing and massive loss of life. I'm pretty sure you can watch in on YouTube.

The best Titanic film has yet to be made though ...........

Just wait until I get my hands on the trifling sum of $200,000,000 and interest David Lynch in writing and directing it.

"A Night To Remember" and "SOS Titanic" ........ meet ......... "Twin Peaks" and "Mulholland Drive"

Trust me it'll be good :cool:
 
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Dan Kappes

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I wonder if there will be another Titanic movie made in the future, as a dozen have been released in the 20th Century alone, but the 1997 film was probably close to the last word.

Also, no Titanic film will ever top A Night to Remember for sheer near-perfect accuracy about the incidents and events of that infamous night.
 

Dan Kappes

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Sep 26, 2018
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Not too sure if the Titanic affected filmmaking in any technical way (although the use of models and later extensive CGI in the 1997 film was probably revolutionary at the time), but one likely outcome is that the films (again mainly the 1997 one) probably inspired Hollywood to make a lot more disaster / romance films since they were shown to be extremely popular and successful.*

At the very least, we can say the Titanic has been made into both the best and worst films ever made. ;)

*Also on an unrelated note, not certain, but I've heard it theorised that the Titanic's discovery in 1985 went on to inspire Hollywood to make a lot of horror films set underwater in the 80's (like James Cameron's Abyss in 1989).
Yeah, James Cameron has mentioned that the discovery of the wreck did inspire him to first make Abyss and a decade later the 1997 Titanic film.
 

Seumas

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I wonder if there will be another Titanic movie made in the future, as a dozen have been released in the 20th Century alone, but the 1997 film was probably close to the last word.

Also, no Titanic film will ever top A Night to Remember for sheer near-perfect accuracy about the incidents and events of that infamous night.
Don't think we'll see another one (unless I can save enough pennies in a jar and get the amazing Mr Lynch on board) before 2050 if I'm brutally honest.

I think that the life of W. T. Stead would make for a good miniseries but I wouldn't make his final days aboard the Titanic a focal point.

One little detail of ANTR that trumps all the other films is when they are lowering the boats. Listen the creaking and squealing of the ropes and the davits, very atmospheric.


How about $200,000,00 + Christopher Nolan And Hans Zimmer? :D
I think it's a race between us to see who can raise the money first and get his guy interested. ;)

Better go check how my Betamax shares are doing .....
 

Seumas

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You can also hear a bit of the ropes and davits creaking in the 1997 film as well, but they're not quite as good as the ones in ANTR.
Damn straight, it's a great film, and it was done on a fairly modest budget too.

It helped that they also had the RMS Asturias to shoot on, she was at the time was being scrapped, her superstructure bears some resemblance to that of Titanic.

Kenneth More wrote in his memoirs that for the scenes in the water, filmed at midnight in an outdoor swimming pool, in November :oops:, the actors and extras were genuinely freezing in the cold water and were getting a proper taste of the suffering those in the water endured on April 15th 1912.
 

Seumas

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Hands up here. I'm a massive David Lynch fan :D

I'd love an "outside the box" approach to telling the story of the disaster. One that is eerie and mysterious. People act strangely and are suspicious of others. There are premonitions and dreams. At times disorientating, are our characters seeing things that may or may not really be there. The full "Lynch treatment" in other words.

And this is who I'd look at:

1st Class - Veteran English firebrand journalist and social campaigner W. T. Stead bewilders his fellow passengers with his passion for spiritualism and his eclectic opinions on the current affairs of April 1912.

2nd Class - Bertha Lehman tries to figure out the shifty, secretive "Monsieur Hoffman" and his two infant boys whom he never lets out of his sight.

3rd Class - Headstrong Swedish socialist August Wennerström looks out for his fellow Swedish nationals in Third Class, helping Alma Pålsson, keen to be with her husband in Chicago, look after her four children and befriending the devoted couple Edvard and Elin Lindell who have a romantic image of what America will be like.

Crew - Chief Officer Harry Wilde is one of White Star's best officers, looking forward to soon commanding his own ship yet the recent loss of his beloved wife and twin sons burns deep within him. Meanwhile the highly popular ships's purser Hugh McElroy is troubled by strange dark dreams.

Of course there is more chance of Southampton FC winning the Premier League & the Champions League double than there is of my dream Titanic film written and directed by David Lynch ever hitting the screen but I hope you enjoyed reading my silly little idea ! :cool:
 
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I'm with you, @Seumas !! There are so many avenues they could take; so many stories to highlight; the ways of re-telling this tale are endless yet time and again we are subject to *yawn* another sinking
 

Seumas

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Cheers ;)

I think we'd all like to see a depiction that finally involves the "New York incident" at Southampton and doesn't persist with the appalling myth of third class passengers being locked behind gates.

On a lighter note, I'd certainly like to see Hugh McElroy and Reg Barker in the pursers office and their reaction to being harassed daily by the complaints of 2nd Class passenger Mrs Imanita Shelley !
 

Dan Kappes

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I'm with you, @Seumas !! There are so many avenues they could take; so many stories to highlight; the ways of re-telling this tale are endless yet time and again we are subject to *yawn* another sinking
I for one wouldn't be tired if they kept making Titanic films. They made over a dozen in the 20th Century alone; I see no reason for that trend to end, otherwise people would forget about the Titanic.
 

Harland Duzen

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A bit off topic, but on the subject of new areas / people to focus on the Titanic, It would be good to see a film based on the Guarantee Group*. With Titanic obsviouly being a new ship (eg. paint was still drying in some areas / workers sandwich discovered in Turkish Bath) it would be cool to see them troubleshooting various issues in areas not normally seen on screen like the engine room, plumbing and kitchens along with how they treated each other and acted to the sinking.

*They did briefly cover them in "Titanic: Birth of a Legend" and the Engine Crew in "Heroes of the Titanic".

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