Herbert Selpin's 1943 Titanic

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Bree Hoskin

Guest
Does anyone know where I would be able to purchase a VHS copy of Herbert Selpin's 1943 Titanic in PAL format?
As far as I can tell, there is no DVD version, and the VHS versions seem to all be in NTSC format.
Anyone with information would be being a great help!
 
Kyrila Scully

Kyrila Scully

Member
I got my copy of the video on Ebay, and I've seen it show up from time to time. Wish I'd paid more attention in German class! But I can easily follow the film's story in spite of not being able to understand German. I know there's a link to the English translation of the script somewhere here on ET in one of the threads.

Kyrila
 
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Bob Godfrey

Member
For those who want a flavour of the film's message, here are some edited highlights (the lines are all genuine!):

ASTOR: When White Star Line drops down to 60 - with my help - nobody will have the guts to buy again. And then I will buy. Very soon I'll be holding 51 per cent of the share capital and the whole White Star Line and the Titanic will be mine.

ISMAY: So Captain Smith, we understand each other. In the event of a record arrival in New York I will pay you five thousand dollars, and a further one thousand dollars for every hour that we save. The higher the ship's speed, the higher your reward.

PETERSON: To keep to the course and at full speed would endanger the lives of more than 2,000 people, Mr President. In the event of an accident the space in the lifeboats isn't sufficient to rescue even a small number of the passengers.
ISMAY: Stop that pessimistic talk!
PETERSON: What do you mean by that?
ISMAY: I mean that you, as the only German officer on board, have, to put it mildly, no interest in seeing the Titanic win the Blue Ribbon.

CAPTAIN: Are you mad? Since when do we use white rockets as an emergency signal?
PETERSON: We don't have any red ones Captain, because the negligence here is so enormous.

ISMAY: I demand a seat in a boat, Captain Smith. (then screaming) I DEMAND A PLACE IN A BOAT! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?
PETERSON: Don't shout like that Mr Ismay. I will see to it that you are rescued.
ISMAY: Really?
PETERSON: Yes, but not as a personal favor to you, but to see you in a Maritime Court on trial for what you have done.
 
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Jim Hathaway

Member
I ordered a dvd copy of the 1943 Titanic film from Kino Video-
http://www.kino.com//video/index.php
I just finished watching it for the first time, and the disc is worth getting just for the two extra features.
One is silent newsreel film of the Titanic, as well as Capt Smith, and the Carpathia.
Second is a White Star produced film (also silent) of a trip on Olympic.
I would guess it was made in the early 1920s as she had a full deck of lifeboats, but it was film I had never seen before.
The feature itself is something of an oddity, and it is certainly no "A Night To Remember"
BTW, you can recognize the scenes from this film used in ANTR, mostly the model steaming at sea.
(The aft superstructure of the model is distinctive, and unlike the real ship)
It does have English subtitles.
 
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Phil Fazzini

Guest
This Script excerpt alone reveals anti-capitalist propaganda (Colonel AStor) and a pro-German
propaganda (Officer Peterson)so very typical of nazi
propaganda.
 
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sharon rutman

Guest
You can rent this gem from netflix.com--I did! Want to laugh? It wasn't half bad! Again, Ismay was public enemy #1, a shrieking martinet out to make a record run (didn't Cameron do the exact same thing in his megamovie blockbuster?) And talk about your artistic differences--the director got into major trouble with this Nazi bosses who had him arrested and forced him to hang himself with his own suspenders. Whew--at least they couldn't blame the Jews for this one!
 
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Brian Ahern

Member
I just watched this this weekend, having also got it from Netflix (small world, Sharon!).

Watching it was strange and disturbing. I haven't read up on the director yet. So I don't understand just yet why he would have been arrested since this movie seemed quite loyal to the Reich.

While John Jacob Astor is plotting his hostile takeover of WSL, a vampish Madeleine is romancing a greedy English lord. The only passengers or crew to act with any decorum or valour are the handful of Germans, and one couple from steerage who I assumed were supposed to be German, accept they were named John and Anne. So maybe the humble, victimized poor of England were allowed to have some humanity. Everyone else is very cowardly and dishonorable. As soon as the passengers hear that there is to be a lifeboat "drill", they immediately begin bashing each over the heads to get into the lifeboats.

The sets and costumes were more lavish than I would have expected. The costumers were flawed, but I think they might have been a little superior to - they were certainly more enjoyable to look at - those in the 1953 version.

I kept trying to keep in mind that those in the film were just people who had the misfortune of living under one government as opposed to another (living under a controversial administration myself, I would hope for the same consideration). But this was the first film I've ever watched that could be termed Nazi propaganda and it was chilling.
 
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Monika E. Simon

Member
The film is pretty obviously a piece of straight-forward German propaganda: the German officer being presented as the only person with backbone and knowing what has to be done and everybody else shown as arrogant and/or incompetent. Not a pretty sight, but I imagine that films of similar ilk were made in the UK and the US at the time.

Amazingly, there seem to be people here in Germany who don't immediately realise that a film released in 1943 should be approached with caution and not taken as 'historic' (these people probably don't even check when the film was made): Susanne Stoermer told me years ago that she was asked repeatedly why Cameron left out the German officer!

What I always thought interesting is that several scenes have made a reappearance in later films about the Titanic, the steerage party, having to liberate an imprisoned friend for example. There is also a story about a blue diamond being on board.

The film was banned in 1944 (I think) because it was regarded as too grim and it was feared that the audience would draw its on parallels between the story of an overly confident and arrogant leadership sailing the Titanic straight into disaster and what was happening around them.

I conclude with the nitpicky comment of the day: the German officer is called Petersen not Peterson.

Best wishes, Monika
 
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Monika E. Simon

Member
Hi Jim,

thanks for the link! That is certainly an interesting article both on the history of the film and the various interpretations the author discusses. It also reminded me why I gave up studying literature. There is a point when all this reading second or third meanings into a film or book is too far-fetched for my humble and very literal brain. For example when the Titanic is read as a "pulsatingly powerful, a hyper-modern cyber-woman" and the encounter with the iceberg as an extramarital affair, that is the point where I think, ah, get off it.

One point I thought was very interesting is that the author talks about "Sigrid Oole" "a fictional Danish character". Is that really what she is called in the English subbed (I assume) version? The version I own is the German video and I checked again yesterday, just to make sure, and she is introduced as 'Sigrid Olinsky, a very rich lady from the Baltics'. A steward later on mentions that she has 'immense estates in Russia'. Sigrid Olinsky is also the name written on a telegram she receives. If the name was changed, I wonder why. And what about "Captain White" mentioned in the article? He is definitely called Smith in the version I own.

Another aspect I have been wondering about are the legal ramifications of the reuse of some footage in "A Night to Remember". Did they just 'nick' them, or did they - I don't know - pay royalties to UFA?

Best wishes,
Monika
 
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Jim Hathaway

Member
I agree about reading in double meanings, etc-I had to do it in college, sometimes one is there, but then as now, I can seem a bit silly at times.
Was'nt it Freud who said "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar"
I will have to look at mine for the character name, I have the subtitled version.
 
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Brian Ahern

Member
Monika, In answer to your question, in the version I saw (German with English subtitles) the woman's name was indeed Sigrid Olinsky.
 
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Robert H. Gibbons

Member
As for German "TITANIC" footage used in "A Night to Remember" and other movies and television shows, Walter Lord told me after World War II, the German film footage was taken over by the Alien Properties Office and was made available for use by American and British film producers. We know there are scenes in William MacQuitty's film "A Night to Remember", but the footage was also used in the Kraft TV version of ANTR and in Telephone Time's TV show "Unsinkable Mrs. Brown" starring Cloris Leachman as Molly Brown. Film makers had very expensive crowd scenes, sinking scenes and model scenes to use in their productions. Robert H. Gibbons
 
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