Lightoller Poorly Portrayed but still FANTASTIC

I know that the general feeling on this message board is that Cameron's Lightoller is poorly portrayed, with many preferring the one from "A Night to Remember" something Lord (before my time) Yet I like the character of Cameron's Lightoller in his own respect. In fact I like the whole crew, just look at my profile! I love the way how Lightoller and Moody are British stereotypes, usually seen with teacup in hand, plus his voice. Plus I know i'm not alone, at least one person on this board named the "I'll shoot you all like dogs" as his/her favourite scene of the entire film. So historically he's well, rubbish, but in his own right he's something special, his best scene being the one that inspired my signature.

Paul Lee

I heard that when the actor who portrayed Lightoller first attempted the line "I'll shoot you all like dogs", it was so authoritative that it gave Cameron goose pimples. However, it was a rehearsal and the cameras weren't rolling. When it came time to do the first actual take, it wasn't as good as the rehearsal.

Can anyone verify this tale?




Inger Sheil

I heard the first part of the anecdote, Paul, but not the second (i.e. that the actual take fell short of expectations).

Jamie, why do you 'love' Lightoller and Moody as British stereotypes? Personally I think it does the historic figures a tremendous disservice, and sells us short in the audience. I'd rather have a realistic depiction of them as human beings and individuals.

When you're familiar with the real characters, the paint-by-numbers poms on screen are hugely disappointing - IMHO. They might as well be part of the set. No wonder their families view these screen travesties with such disdain.
I do agree with that Inger, but I don't look at them as Lightoller & Moody because you can't when you know what they were really like, as you pointed out. I look at them as characters in their own right, and i do stress characters. We must remember this not a documentary and Cameron had to remember his target audience. The majority of people who see the film don't give a dam about the accuracy of character depth, their there to see Jack and Rose. So when you temporarily wipe out what you know about Lightoller & Moody they become pretty good characters in their own right, and lets face it they (Moody especially) only have a few lines between them, you don't even see Lightoller until the night of the collision ! So you just have to sit back and allow them to tell you the story. Then we can watch proper documentaries and then cast an analysis. By the way who you calling pom wallaby!

Paul, that did actually happen and it's hardly supprising as the actor (Ian something maybe Godfrey) brings the voice and the aura to the role.


Inger Sheil

Lol! I'm a Wallaby who also happens to be a Pom - and is absolutely delighted with the two passports. You were kind not to use some variation on 'convict spawn', which seems to be the insult of choice
(seriously, though, my use of 'pom' was a sardonic comment on the British stereotypes in Cameron's production...much as I might have refered slightingly to a 'Yank' when describing a fictional depiction of someone from the USA in an English movie that owed more to reductive stereotypes than to any real observations of individual character or national characteristics).

If the characters are totally divorced from the men whose names they bear, and if the majority of people don't care about accuracy and character depth, then why not call them Bertie Smith and Freddie Jones? And even as characters totally disassociated from their namesakes I find them problematic - they are indicative of the prejudices against the British in modern film-making. Cardboard cutouts, really - not characters at all.
>>If the characters are totally divorced from the men whose names they bear, and if the majority of people don't care about accuracy and character depth, then why not call them Bertie Smith and Freddie Jones?<<

As a creative writer and a Titanic enthusiast, I agree. These were distinctive people, and who they really were went intoi shaping the actual story, although Cameron's was not the real thing. True that Cam's target audience was the young who no doubt wanted to see 'Loverboy Leo,' but Cam also knew that the film would attract the Titanic community as well, so paying attention to and respecting the accuracy of the places, events, and people as closely as possible would understandably and expectedly be another concern.

"More like extras"

Well, I don't think they were, Jamie, at least not all of them. The Murdoch, Lowe, and Wilde characters, and Moody to a lesser extent, served a purpose in the plot and carried through several scenes and had a considerable number of lines. Their identities were also emphasized. Boxhall was only shown once, in LB #2 pulling away from Titanic Starboard aft, yelling "Bloody pull faster--and pull!" Pitman wasn't shown or mentioned at all. So Murdoch, Lightoller, Lowe, and Wilde were distinct characters--people--whose roles held some importance here. The only reason that Lightoller didn't 'show up' until the night of the sinking was that the movie focused on Leo-Boy and Katie-Poo in their adventures onboard, but when Lightoller and Lowe did come into the story, they took on significantly unique roles, each with considerable attention.
I didn't mean 'extras' contribution wise because you're quite right, but in terms of character research, they were on equal terms with 'extras'. You just have to read the many dozens of complaints made by the families of the officers in question.
Lightoller's portrayal, while maybe not historically accurate, served his role in the movie as one of Titanic's heroic officers. Next to Murdoch, he had the most memorable scenes in the movie when he said "Stand back or I'll shoot you all like Dogs!". Also, Lightoller was nowhere to be found after the sinking in the movie, yet he was one of the officers that survived.

Guess Cameron wanted everyone to assume that he went down with the ship? Too bad!
Cameron did film a post-sinking scene with Lightoller doing his balancing act on the upturned lifeboat, but like a number of other scenes unrelated to the Jack & Rose story it ended up on the cutting room floor. It's included on one of the discs in the CD set 'James Cameron's Titanic Explorer'.
Small inaccuracy in the part that DID make the film. Jonathan Philips is shown scrambling onto the upturned lifeboat with his hat on his head. As my friend Flo said, "There is no way, short of surgical implant, that Lights would have been wearing his hat at that time."

The general impression one gets of Lightoller from the movie is that he was inflexible, uptight, and on the verge of panic during the sinking. Given that physical courage was one of the man's most outstanding charateristics, I think that Cameron's portrayal does him a great disservice.

Pat W
Whereas in ANTR we have Lights portrayed as the ultimate professional, the man who always knows the right thing to do and gets on with it in a manner which is beyond criticism. The truth of course lies somewhere in between, but I suspect it lies a lot closer to Kenneth More than to Jonny Phillips.
Mark, the 'Titanic Explorer' set is the same one we were talking about a few weeks back in connection with the deleted Californian scenes. I believe it is now hard to find in the US, but Amazon UK have it listed. Keep in mind that it was first issued quite a few years ago, and some members have reported having problems getting it to run with Windows XP.