HISTORY on Camerons Titanic


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Caroline Chavez

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Now we all notice that the film "Titanic" by Cameron, does not talk a lot about everything that happend and all the facts etc. But do you disagree on how he Produced the film? Do you think it should have had more facts? Is it perfect the way it is? Tell me your opinions about it.
-Caroline THANK YOU. :)
 

Tim Brandsoy

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It was his film. Varying views have been expressed and discussed ad nauseum over the last 5 looong YEARS! If the poor reception GOTA got in terms of gross is any indication (a superior documentary film IMHO) then 'T' was right for what it was intended for: entertainment.

No one should judge history on a pop movie regardless of the backdrop.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Caroline, this question is nowhere near as easy to answer as you might think. For those of us who are serious about the history of the ship, the answer would be a resounding "Hell yes!!!!"

The problem is that in order to make a return to the backers on their not insubstantial investment in the film, Cameron had to produce something that would resonate well enough with a mass audiance that they would go back to the theatres to see it again, and again, and again...

Unfortunately, a Joe Friday "Just-the-facts-ma'am" approach doesn't seem to resonate well with a mass market. Quite a pity as what I understand about Cameron is that he's very well studied on the history of the ship.
 
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Tom Pappas

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Perfect? I don't think so. If I had edited the film, the gunplay and second trip below decks would have wound up on the cutting-room floor, and the Californian scenes would be in the final cut, as would the Straus's exchange on the boat deck. Perhaps a nod to what the victims really experienced would have lent an air of authenticity, too.

I don't really think that leaving in more history would have reduced the multi-billion dollar box office below break-even.

(Did I mention that the CQD sounded like Skippy the Chimp was sending?)
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Look out everybody! Tom and I agree on something as I would have done the same.

Too bad the target audiance didn't see it that way.
lame.gif
 
Jul 12, 2003
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Maybe it depends on what you are seeking when seeing it (or any film for that matter). Besides you have to consider the audience...some are Titanic buffs, some want a love story, some are Leo fans, etc. For those reasons, I don't think it is perfect in any one way. It's an individual opinion. I think perhaps that JC wanted to be sure that the film satisfied all audiences in one way or another.
 
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Caroline Chavez

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I would have to totaly agree with Debrah Russes. I personaly think "Titanic"by Cameron was perfect. It gave us a little history about the ship and it gave us a romantic fibe. I really do not think "Titanic" would have wone all thoes awards if it just was a Historic documentury. For example "GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS" i personaly thought that movie was great, but did that movie win any awards? For best Picture, best Music, best Costume? Etc. I don't think it did, maybe i am wrong. But i do know that MORE people went to see "Titanic" then "Ghosts Of The Abyss" I guess some people are just not open minded to learn new things. Oh well. What i am trying to say is really diffucult to put in words.
-Caroline c :)
 

Bob Godfrey

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The producers had the example of the film version of A Night to Remember to guide them. Factual (within the limits of what was known at the time), realistic and fairly comprehensive in coverage of siginificant events and locations. But though it impressed the New York critics, audiences stayed away in droves. Why? No stars, no central characters for the audience to identify with, no kind of redemption from disaster. In commercial terms, Cameron knew better and gave the audience what they wanted.
 
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Caroline,

Forgive me for chiming in late, but I just discovered this thread.

I see your point, and I won't argue it with you, but there are a couple of things that I think you should consider.

I'm not sure that awards can be pointed to as a true measure of a film. There are often politics behind the issuance of an award that have nothing to do with the film's worth. Regardless, GotA has not won any awards simply because it was released just this year. It will be eligible for consideration when the ballots start getting cast later this year. But GotA will be considered in different categories than "Titanic" was, so there can not be any real comparison. If "Titanic" won Best Costume, though, then GotA should too, because the same costumes were recycled for the latter. :)

A larger point to consider is this...Cameron had to literally go begging to have Fox produce the film in 1995-97. Remember the context...at that time, the general consensus, shared by some parent studio executives, was that "Titanic" had all the makings of a box-office disaster. The movie that Cameron filmed is not the film that Fox released. Studio executives forced the cut of certain scenes and the insertion of fillers to cover some of those gaps. Cameron wanted the Californian scene, the Collapsible B scene, and others, which is why he went through the trouble of filming them. He was forced to cut them. Ever wonder why Rose and Jack can run directly out of a boiler room into the cargo hold? Cameron had the ship's plans in front of him, but the studio execs were trimming minutes, even seconds, everywhere they could. They hovered over his shoulder during practically every scene. So, Cameron had to film a filler scene to shorten that distance. I don't think people realise or appreciate the sacrifices and compromises that Cameron had to make to get his movie financed, promoted, and released.

Why haven't you heard Cameron gripe about this? Because he's no whiner, in my opinion. He did both his best and what he had to do to get the film released and then took responsibility for the end product. His name is above the title and he's certainly not going to sabotage the film by grumbling about studio interference when he is on TV promoting it. I have not even heard him gripe about it privately. The closest he came was once when we were talking about the Californian Marconi Room set...he expressed regret that that scene didn't make it into the final cut, but he blamed no one. Of course, he's going to claim that "Titanic" was the most historically accurate film about Titanic ever made, even though he knows where every shortcut and compromise is that had to be taken. In his business, he cannot appear on a promotional gig and hedge about his film. We might do it here in this forum, but we cannot expect him to do the same in his livelihood. Besides, in my view he can rightfully make that claim, because he went to extraordinary lengths toward that goal and largely succeeded.

Everything I am telling you here I had to learn by piecing together ancedotes that I heard while talking with other people, including one studio representative, who were involved in the production. My personal assessment about Cameron comes from personally interacting with him on both the set and in his offices...I have observed that he is a true Captain of whatever project he takes on. He maintains firm control, accommodates compromises when he has to, and rarely dwells on what-should-have-beens. Above all, though, he accepts responsibility for the end product and doesn't try to shift blame away from himself. For that, I respect the man.

The bottom line is that "Titanic" (1997) is a compromise between the story that Cameron wanted to tell and the money-maker that the studio wanted released. Many films are like that..no, let me correct that...most films are like that. In most cases, the compromise is apparent and audiences turn away frustrated. Only rarely does the mix work and people are truly entertained. "Titanic" happened to be one of those films where the compromise solution worked. Well, I don't really mean, "happened." In my view, "Titanic" worked because Cameron passionately fought to keep his vision as intact as possible. Yes, he lost battles with the studio over various details, but he won the war by getting his story to the audience. That's another characteristic of a good Captain...accepting that some battles will have to be lost if victory is to be won and dealing with that fact accordingly. And who can really say that the Fox execs were wrong in their approach? They succeeded where it mattered to them...they have the biggest money-maker -- and award-gatherer -- of all time on their hands. Yes, I know...this forum is not the place for that perspective. I personally don't approve of sacrificing historical accuracy for profit, but my preferences won't change the reality of the situation.

If anything, I think that GotA is a truer measure of the feeling that Cameron has for the ship than "Titanic." As far as I can determine, he did that film for himself, knowing full well that a feature-film documentary about the ship would not be a huge money-maker. His enthusiasm even rubbed off on his financial backers, Walden Media, who scraped together as much money as they could to finance the project. Even so, budget was extremely tight throughout the production and the scenes shot ashore were done using as much recycled material from the original film and donated work as possible. I was not the only person to work for gratis on the production. But, you know, that has a positive side to it, too. Most of us were there because we were passionate about the subject, not because we were interested in profit potential. Even the Walden Media reps got caught up in Titanic.

I'll be interested to see how well the home-release DVD of GotA sells. Doesn't matter, really, except to the producers and distributors. Cameron wants to go back to the wreck again, regardless, in order to capture those areas that he couldn't in 2001. I doubt another film will result from it, but that's not what's driving him, anyway.

One more fact to consider...a production the size of "Titanic" requires that certain duties will be delegated. Cameron could not physically oversee every detail, even though he worked virtually around-the-clock during filming. Mistakes were made by the production crew that were not caught until it was too late to change them. Yes, Cameron knows that the colour of the mast is off, that the Morse was unintelligible, that the Dining Saloon doors didn't have glass in them, that the fly-by scene was incorrectly lit by Digital Domain (which forced it to be shown "flopped"), etc., but stuff like that happens when you are forced to rely on others. Again, though, even though I point it out here, you will never hear Cameron complain about it. He will, however, correct those mistakes whenever he has the chance. Personally, I'm glad that the Morse in "Titanic" was faulty, because it gave me the chance to re-enact the scene -- and re-record the audio -- in GotA. I've even heard that he has speculated about how best to digitally correct certain errors in "Titanic."

Which brings me to my last point, the often-mentioned speculation about a "Director's Cut." Like I said, Cameron takes full responsibility for the film. I have heard him say on more than one occasion that what we saw in theatres was the "director's cut." I don't expect that we'll ever see an expanded version of the film with deleted scenes restored, unless Fox makes the decision for him. Legally, they own the film and can produce their own "Director's Cut" without Cameron's input, if they so choose. However, with Cameron still a potential money-maker for them, they so far have not been willing to force the issue. This is why you may have heard occasional rumours of a Director's Cut, but seen nothing on store shelves to date. I think we are getting close to a re-release of the film, but I don't know what features it will have or what the film itself will look like. I am intrigued, though, about Cameron's desire to digitally correct visual errors in the film. We'll just have to wait and see. I can guarantee you, though, that the biggest box-office success of all time will see another release date.

I've rambled on a bit too long. This is my perspective on the subject, for what it's worth.

Parks
 
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Caroline Chavez

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Thank you Parks for your fine thoughts and facts. Keep on posting folks!

Caroline c :)
 
Jul 12, 2003
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Personally, I don't really care about award shows. I like what I like and getting an award does not make me want to see a film. The Academy Awards are just actors voting for actors anyway and there are a lot of politics involved. The public has nothing to do with who chooses the Oscar winners. I think the only category Ghosts would qualify for would be the Documentary award.

In a short time, the nominations will be out so we will know then.

Parks, I understand that Fox owns the film but doesn't Paramount have distribution rights? It would be a collaborative effort between Fox & Paramount for a director's cut wouldn't it? Maybe it doesn't matter...most people like director's cuts better anyway. If one did come out, it would be safe to say that it would be released in time for the Christmas holiday gift buying season.
 

Kyrila Scully

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You know what, Parks? When I worked for Star Trek, the original series had been off the air for several years already. (I worked for the official fan club from 1972-1975.) Through a massive letter campaign conducted by the fans, we finally persuaded Paramount to produce the first Star Trek motion picture. However, it helped that Star Wars was released first and became a monster hit. Still, a letter campaign by the fans, if properly mobilized, can persuade a studio to produce what the public/fans want - a restored version of Titanic, regardless of the length. It can't hurt.

Kyrila
 
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Nicolas Roughol

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Parks,

Thanks for your thoughts related to Cameron and a potential re-release of Titanic.
I would add a couple of other things: although you said that Cameron considers the movie as it is as a final cut, two previous Cameron movies, The Abyss and Terminator 2, have already been released on DVD in Extended Cut versions. Although The Abyss is not labelled as a Director's Cut, the Extended Cut shows the movie as Cameron originally intended it to be. Whether he was consulted for that Extended Cut release, that I don't know. However, regarding T2, the recently released Extreme Edition, with 16 min of additional footage, is clearly a Director's Cut, and features audio commentary from Cameron himself (the first audio commentary actually for Cameron on a DVD). This proves that Cameron is not opposed to the idea of new, extended cuts for DVD releases. Maybe he wil reconsider it for Titanic then...let's just hope ;)
 
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Tom Pappas

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To start with, I think the Academy Awards reward the wrong behaviors, but that's a matter for another rant. But as far as James Cameron's claim of "painstaking attention to detail" in the filming of Titanic, I just have to laugh. To say that he "largely succeeded" is like saying the ship "almost got to New York."
 
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Tom, one can laugh and some of it may well be justified, but if you check the post Parks made, you'll see that Cameron didn't exactly have a choice in the matter at every step of the way. All the bean counters had to do was withdraw financial support and this film would never have made it into the can much less the cinimas.

In light of that, it's not hard to see why the gent had to make compromises.

>>To say that he "largely succeeded" is like saying the ship "almost got to New York."<<

Which in a very literal sense is quite true. The ship almost did make it to New York. Trouble is they ran into a roadblock along the way. The same...IMO...applies to the film. Granted, history took it in the shorts, but one would be hard pressed to find sets that were closer to the reality then what Cameron accomplished. Considering what he was up against and who he had to answer to, (The guys holding the purse strings) he did a pretty decent job.
 
Jun 8, 2003
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"It was his film." Tim this is true i agree.
Basically i feel that Titanic was a Movie. Therefore it is not a documentry and does not need to be completley factual.
I agree Michael Cameron had to make a lot of compromises. anyone who has read the original script will find many scenes that he was FORCED to cut, as result of the length of the film.
(original lasting 5 and a half hours). These cut scenes had much more factual events in them including Isa and Isadore strauss etc.
At the end of the day ANY Primary source of a historical event is biased (i cant spell can i ?), as is any secondary source.
Cameron Interpreted his own ideas and visions of the disaster into HIS movie.
 
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