Should there be more shipwreck films?

Dan Kappes

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Sep 26, 2018
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It would be nice to see drama films as epic as James Cameron's 1997 Titanic based on the sinkings of the Birkenhead, Central America, Arctic, Lusitania, and the Empress of Ireland.

And a movie about the Edmund Fitzgerald in the style of The Perfect Storm, The Finest Hours, and In the Heart of the Sea.
 

Kyle Naber

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Oct 5, 2016
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To be honest, I feel like the general public is only interested in Titanic and MAYBE the Lusitania.
 

Seumas

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Mar 25, 2019
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Five fascinating shipwrecks (to me anyway) come to mind.

Batavia - 1629
Atlantic - 1873
Iolaire - 1919
Lancastria - 1940
Princess Victoria - 1953

The gruesome story behind not just the wreck but the aftermath of the Batavia's sinking I'm surprised has not caught the attention of Hollywood. A jaw dropping story that sends shivers down the spine.

Of more interest to me would be a TV dramatisation of the steam yacht Iolaire's sinking shot on location on the Isle of Lewis and using Gàidhlig speaking actors for the majority of the roles.

The Iolaire was wrecked with heavy loss of life (the record keeping wasn't satisfactory but it's thought that almost 300 men were aboard, 82 survived, ) on January 1st 1919, returning to Stornoway overloaded with Royal Navy men returning from the war to their families. Men from Stornoway drowned within sight of their own homes. The next week was spent recovering bodies from the beaches. Wives frequently found their husbands bodies, sometimes children found their fathers body.

Iolaire's captain and officers all drowned. With their deaths, no-one was able to answer why she was making an erratic approach to the harbour and hit well charted rocks not far from shore.

I fear if they ever did make a feature film involving the Lusitania that "based on a work by Colin Simpson" would flash up on the credits. Hollywood would surely want to use the tiresome twin conspiracy theories of (i) hold packed with explosives and (ii) being deliberately sent into the danger zone.
 
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Harland Duzen

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A slight problem for some of these other shipwrecks is the amount of time they took to sink. With some lasting from between 18 - 55 minutes, it might be difficult to make a film or drama around them without them just being used as a setting in an act or a scene rather than an entire film.

Despite the above, I would still love to see some high quality films about the above, if done respectfully.
 
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Dan Kappes

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The 1935 film Dante's Inferno has a sequence in which an ocean liner burns that was inspired by the Morro Castle disaster.

Another great film made in 1937 is titled History is Made at Night and it features an ocean liner colliding with an iceberg, although it doesn't sink. The passengers on board even sing "Nearer, My God, To Thee", another reference to the Titanic.
 

Dan Kappes

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There is another great shipwreck film starring Gary Cooper that was also released in 1937 titled Souls at Sea about a 19th century passenger sailing packet that catches fire and sinks.

Since the beginning of the film is also about the slave trade, this film is kind of half Amistad and half the 1997 Cameron Titanic film.

Here is the entire film on YouTube.

 
Dec 4, 2000
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"Lifeboat" a 1944 survival film by director Alfred Hitchcock. Although all of the action takes place within the confines of a lifeboat, the master film maker found a way to make a cameo appearance.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Seumas

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A cracking film. Recently restored too. Hitchcock "cameo appearance" is wonderfully ingenious.

Two more wrecks to add. The story behind the Mississippi riverboat Sultana and the Thames pleasure steamer Princess Alice are worthy of telling to a wide audience.
 

Dan Kappes

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The footage at the beginning of Lifeboat showing the funnel of the sinking ship slipping beneath the waves was also included in the last scene of the 1960 film The Last Voyage, a film that is also famous for partially sinking the old liner Ile De France before her scrapping.

It would also be nice to see an English drama film or TV movie about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. I think there is already a German TV movie about it but it would be nice to see an English language version.

The sinking of the Lancastria is mentioned in the 2007 WWII film Atonement, but it is not seen since the film's protagonist learns about it a day after it sinks. That sinkng would also make a good film, like the TV miniseries about the sinking of the Laconia.