La Femme de Chambre du Titanic

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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This French film was released in 1997 and was largely unnoticed in the song and dance that surrounded Cameron’s blockbuster. It’s not actually about Titanic as such and rivet counters need not bother with it.

It would spoil the film to reveal the story. It’s really an exploration of the boundaries between fantasy and reality. It concerns a young French worker in a smelter. In 1912 he wins a gruelling annual race for the macho men of the plant and his prize is a trip to Southampton to view the departure of Titanic. His wife stays home because his boss refuses to give her a ticket. Is the boss after her body or is she using her feminine wiles to manipulate him?

In the Southwestern Hotel he meets a beautiful French woman named Marie, a chambermaid, who is about to join Titanic. She persuades him to let her share his room. You can guess the rest. Or can you? How much is fact, how much is fantasy and how much is cynical invention, intended to make his experience profitable?

The ship plays a negligible role in the story. The important point is that the tale demonstrates the powerful position of Titanic in popular culture. Had Marie been La Femme de Chambre du Baltic, there would be no movie!
 

Jan C. Nielsen

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Dec 12, 1999
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Mike:

It's on Amazon.com at a whopping $94.38, and yes, it does have english subtitles. The Amazon site says the price will go down in six months. The title is "The Chambermaid on the Titanic." It sounds like a good movie . . . I just wish it wasn't so expensive.
 

Mike Herbold

Member
Feb 13, 2001
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Thanks, Joe
Yeah, about the only movie I'd pay that much for would be the 1912 version.
I'll wait 6 months like you.
Mike
 

Jan C. Nielsen

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Dec 12, 1999
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I finally rented this movie. The Titanic appears in only a few scenes, but - - as a 'larger-than-life' element to the story - - it's a key thread overall. The Titanic itself appears as sort of a dreamy, sacred icon. A guy with a miserable, fility job in a foundry wins a contest and gets to go to Southampton to see the wonderful Titanic off. Meanwhile, his pretty wife is working the boss, to get the guy a better job - - away from the dirt, so he can breathe. In Southampton, he stays at the Southwestern Hotel. A pimp spots the guy, and sends a beautiful prostitute up to his room (who is also, incidentally, a chambermaid on the Titanic), intending to pick his pocket. They spend the night together. Curiously enough, nothing happens. But then, that's okay because a fantasy about what conceivably could have happened begins to take form. That fantasy is titanic in and of itself, and takes place within or near the Titanic. It is embellished, imagined, taken to extremes, and exploited. The initial story of having spent a night with a beautiful victim of the Titanic disaster, becomes a tale of his surviving the disaster, and losing the love of his life aboard that ship. A photograph of Chambermaid gets gradually blown up, like the story - - until it is life size. The guy's wife even starts dressing up as the Chambermaid. But at that point reality intercedes. The story has a happy ending.
 
R

Rolf Vonk

Guest
Hi Jan,

I've watched the movie just a week ago on TV. I didn't really liked the movie, but the I found the Titanic scenes beautifull. It's just the way they filmed her in harbour: like a hughe, enormous monster. I was far more impressed than in Cameron's Harbour scene.

Much greetings,
Rollie
happy.gif
 

Jan C. Nielsen

Senior Member
Dec 12, 1999
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For a Titanic buff, Cameron's movie is obviously much better. But then a French film company can't compete with Hollywood's $200 million budget for "Titanic." I guess what I enjoyed were the actors and actresses, and the way that this guy's episode with the Chambermaid (wherein nothing happened) became exotic, and larger-than-life, much like the Titanic itself. As such, I think the Titanic was much more than just a backdrop.

Many of us, at ET, have our own "chambermaid" of sorts, from the Titanic. Each of us may focus on a particular personality who was lost, or survived. Fortunately, the stories about our chambermaids tend to be fairly factually-based, and not tales. But the more we tell the story, there's a propensity to embellish it with additional details, and to speculate.

So there's actually quite a bit for ET buffs in this film.
 

Jan C. Nielsen

Senior Member
Dec 12, 1999
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There's also an interesting theme here that pertains to all of us, as members of the periphery. This guy witnesses the beautiful Chambermaid, and visits the dock to see the beautiful Titanic leave. But doesn't experience the Chambermaid, or go aboard the Titanic. He's always outside of it. Like most of us. Then, he goes on to make up incredible tales about the Chamrbermaid, and being on the Titanic with her. Later, when the Chambermaid reappears, and the guy understands her as a reality, he's no longer interested.

Obviously, this tells us something about the propensity of people on the periphery to create a fantasy of desire, that they can't have, and that, actually, they don't want to really have. When the reality comes to them, or they really understand that reality so that it's not a fantasy anymore - - they don't want it. For example, I was in touch with a relative of crewman Albert Fryer, who indicated that Fryer never talked about the disaster, and told people, who inquired, that "You don't know what it was like." To be truthfull, if we, on the periphery, had experienced the Titanic disaster, we probably wouldn't want anything to do with it. Like Fryer, we might just try to forget it altogether.