The ideal Big T drama

Nov 30, 2000
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Just a thought that has occure

Just a thought that has occured to me: the ideal Big T drama, be it a novel, play, musical, or film, should be done as follows:

It be factually accurate (natch).

It is correctly set in 1912 without any "political correctness" stuffed in.

Lastly, and most important, the story is told from the points of view of a decent cross-section of real-life passengers and crew, people who are depicted as correctly -and engagingly- as possible.

That doesn't seem so tough, at least to me, and certainly doesn't sound like a (gasp! horrors!) impersonal "documentary-style" sort of drama.
Comments, anyone?

Richard
 

Jerry Nuovo

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Richard, I have to agree 100% with what you wrote in your last message.The Cameron film Titanic even though it had great special effects and also a great job in recreating the almost full size ship and her rooms,still suffers from a weak script.Such as the cross-class love story involving fictional characters First Class Rose and Steerage Class Jack.I still honestly believe that any real First Class women aboard the Titanic would not have had any interest in a poor guy in steerage. And the unfair depiction of First Officer Murdoch as a trigger happy goon.Which is why in my humble opinion A Night to Remember remains as the most historically accurate Titanic movie. Sincerely,Jerry Nuovo
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I'd agree too only it ain't gonna happen. Sheer economics will see to that. Audiences want to see something that's entertaining to them and (for those looking for some kind of "meaning") which "speaks to them" in a context that they would understand. Anything else, and people will fork over their money for something else. So long as that's the situtation, expect Hollywood to provide exactly that.
 

Jeremy Lee

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Jun 12, 2003
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That is exactly why James Cameron's film was shown worldwide but GOTA was only shown in few countries.
 
Nov 30, 2000
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Mike, I see your argument, but, being a rebel in this regard, I am afraid I disagree.
Consider: "Band Of Brothers" was a success on the small screen and "Seabiscuit" and "Chariots Of Fire" were successes on the big screen. All three had meaning and entertainment value, as well as were true stories done as correctly as the medium of film would allow. Indeed, they challenge all the conventional notions about history and Hollywood that films like "Titanic" and "Pearl Harbor" expouse.
Anyway, going back to Big T, surely, as far as people go, Second Officer Lightoller was a far greater hero than any fictional one could be (yes, I know he made mistakes that night and was vague on key things at both inquires, but darn, he STAYED ABOARD until Big T dove from under his feet, so he was no coward, and took charge right smart at Collapsible B afterward!) Beyond a doubt Captain Arthur H. Rostron of the RMS Carpathia counts as one.
What I am saying is, there are real-life people whose stories viewers could respond to, if not root for at the same time as in Lights and Rostron's case. Surely, not even the best fictional hero could match them. They make even Neo in "The Matrix" look plain! :)
In closing: as the most important part of history is the last five letters of the word (as the late, great Stephen Ambrose once said) if one only looks closesly at history with open eyes, they would find ample entertainment and meaning in true-life tales told unadulterated in any dramatic medium.
Just waving my flag proudly here, so to speak. I freely conceed, however, that your view is as valid as mine, Mike, as this is a debate.

Respectfully,
Richard
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Mike, I see your argument, but, being a rebel in this regard, I am afraid I disagree.<<

That's your right, but keep in mind that what Hollywood is willing to produce is based on a lot of market studies and screen tests. It's the broad market that they pay attention to, not the niche market.

>>Consider: "Band Of Brothers" was a success on the small screen and "Seabiscuit" and "Chariots Of Fire" were successes on the big screen. All three had meaning and entertainment value, as well as were true stories done as correctly as the medium of film would allow.<<

Were they? I can't speak to Seabiscuit or Chariots of Fire, but I can relate to some vets who thought Band of Brothers was more Hollywood then history. I guess one's results vary quite wildly here. <shrug>

>>What I am saying is, there are real-life people whose stories viewers could respond to, if not root for at the same time as in Lights and Rostron's case. Surely, not even the best fictional hero could match them. They make even Neo in "The Matrix" look plain! :)<<

And you may be right in the long haul. However, the entertainment industry is still a for-profit enterprise which has to answer to stockholders. When our hopes say one thing, but their market studies, screen tests, and the box office reciepts tell them a very different story, guess which direction they'll move in!!!
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Apr 22, 2012
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I wonder if another large-scale film about the Titanic would even hold a "mainstream" audience's attention today? In 1997, the Cameron film brought the story out in a big way. While there were those who yearned to learn more about the ship and began to respect it historically, a large portion of the audience were teary-eyed teenie boppers.

In my humble opinion, if another large-scale Titanic film were to be released, the general public would likely say, "Seen it before!"
 
Nov 30, 2000
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To amplify:

If the viewer was allowed to get to know Captain Smith the person vs. Captain Smith the demigod, for example, to see the creature of flesh and blood behind the legend, there would be something different. Ditto when it came to any other legendary figure in the drama.
Even more, if one put people like, say, Eva Hart and her family in the drama, there would be even more human interest for the viewer.
That would be the key to the ultimate Big T film: human interest, provided by delving -natch-into the real human dimension of the Titanic.

Richard
 
Jan 28, 2003
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"Not if you allow the TRUE human side of Big T to take center stage, IMO"

But I think that's what ANTR and even Cameron's film tried to do, the latter by inventing rather more fantastic passengers than were actually on board. Because that is the problem. Until the ship actually sank, nobody was really very interesting - they ate, chatted, slept and pottered about, or stood uneventful watches etc. Their interest is defined by a two-hour period of drama, nothing else. Nobody seemed to be doing anything heroic or fascinating before 11.40pm on the 14th, which does pose a problem for movie-makers. Personally, I think Cameron's film will be the last, no matter how one regrets the script. Now Lightoller does sound to have led a quite extraordinary life before and after the disaster, so you could make a movie of his life.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Until the ship actually sank, nobody was really very interesting -

That's likely one of the main reasons why the majority A Night to Remember took place on April 14: that night was the night that is remembered.

Perhaps if Cameron had taken a similar approach, rather than recreating the entire crossing with fictional characters, he could have based his film solely on the historical facts.
 

Jeremy Lee

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Jun 12, 2003
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If he had started the film from the point when Fleet spotted the berg, then the starting would be quite abrupt. It might work quite well for a book, but not for a movie.

I agree with you that fictional characters are 'not good' for the film and would like them dropped for a really good movie.

If I had the resources, I would start the film at the dinner party of 1907 and show the launch and construction as well before proceeding to the maiden voyage and sinking. I would also extend the Carpathia scene, showing the ship picking up lifeboats and the mad dash through the ice to reach the Titanic.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Re Cameron's movie - the script was awful in (many) places, the drawings were dire ... but, I still do think the mechanic of the old Rose vs. the young one was OK. I think it satisfies the desire for human interest, given that (as I said before) it was somewhat intrinsically lacking in previous efforts. Re the Lusitania - it was an even shorter time. What are you going to put into the a movie that hasn't been shown on Discovery? These tragedies are short, and brutal. Titanic is dramatic because there was nearly 3 hours from accident to certain death - the Lusitania was much shorter. Not much scope for a movie.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>the Lusitania was much shorter. Not much scope for a movie. <<

I wouldn't be so sure of that. Throw in all the intrigue that surrounded this event...both real and imagined...and you have plenty of fodder leading right up to the dramatic climax. Whether or not it's really accurate may be something else entirely, but moviemakers aren't known for letting that get in the way of a good story.

Or a bad one. <shrug>
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Matthew Lips

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Mar 8, 2001
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I agree, throw in the usual Titanic-style mixture of fact and fiction, and you can end up with a very good Lusitania movie indeed. As a matter of fact, a novel entitled "Lusitania" (I forget the author's name at the moment) was published in the early 1980's.

It mixed fictional characters with real ones, and was a rattling good read. It was also long enough that even the paperback version could serve as a doorstop, which shows just how much of a story one can weave out of Lusitania despite the brief sinking time. If somebody made a movie out of that book we would end up with the longest film in history!

Of course, given modern day sensibilities, the anti-German feelings that are inherent to any reasonably true-to-life Lusitania story would need some careful handling. Nothing that a decent scriptwriter or director can't manage, though.

There is really no need for the sinking itself to be filmed in "real" time. The action could pan between different parts of the ship and different characters in parallel time, so to speak, which if done properly would only heighten the tension and excitement of events in Lusitania's final moments. It is scarcely beyond the grasp of Hollywood's best to spin a few minutes of real drama into 30 minutes or more of cinematic thrills.

Although, as Michael alluded to, it is not beyond the grasp of Hollywood's worst to make a Lusitania movie so atrocious it would make the Britannic film look like an Oscar candidate!
 

Carl Ireton

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Dec 3, 2005
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Hi, guess I'll join in on this. When my wife and I first saw the James Cameron movie Titanic, we made it for the second showing. When the first one ended, I watched as people, mostly women, walked out in tears. When was the last time anyone saw a movie that powerful. A few years ago, there were some people scoping out sites in Ireland for a big screen Lusitania movie. But haven't heard any more about that. I think it would be very successful, properly done, and of course, without political correctness involved. Alot of drama can happen in eighteen minutes. Remember with the "Poseidon Adventure" that it took only moments for that ship to turn over, and that film went on in 1972 to become the all-time biggest money making disaster movie until Cameron's Titanic. I've seen postings about some of the camera mistakes in Titanic. And when you have such a successful film as that, you will always have people to 'pan' the movie and look for mistakes. I suppose if you looked hard enough, you could find mistakes in almost any film. But with all the budget restraints and pressure James Cameron was under, he still came out with a fantastic picture. How many movies do you know of where people went back time and time again to see it in the theatre before it's time was up. But getting back to other films of the same genre, I think if somebody researched the Lusitania and made a movie about her last voyage, it would be a resounding success, especially if James Cameron did it? As for the Titanic herself, she has an eerie way of grasping hold of one once they've either read her story or seen the movie. And she never lets go. I read a book about her when I was in grade school and saw the Clifton Webb/Barbara Stanwyk movie, and was entranced, and back then there wasn't alot of written material about her. Some of the stars in the big screen movie have also been bitten and went on to go out to her wreck site and film the Imax movie, "Ghosts of the Abyss". It's interesting how the Titanic affects everybody in a different way, though. As for people who were heroes, I'm sure there are alot of unsung third class heroes who gave their lives trying to save others as well. Imagine those trapped in the stern area, refused entrance to the boat decks. Or those standing inside a corridor inside the ship when all of a sudden the ship breaks apart and the stern crashes back on the sea, and you see the horrible site of the hundreds of people below in the ocean and he forepart of the ship slowly disappearing beneath the ocean. I also think that in some circles, Captain Smith has been too vilified. I don't hold any blame against him. I think there were reasons the ship was travelling too fast. And I do think he was being pushed by the manager of the line to push for more speed. I think if any blame can be placed anywhere, it was in the fact that the two wireless operators were inundated with wireless messages to be sent out by various passengers. The important ice message didn't get to the bridge. But you have to keep in mind, back then the wireless was like the internet to those people, a new phenomenon. What cooler way to enjoy a voyage than to send a message to your friends out in Nebraska or England, or wherever, that you were sailing across the ocean serenely in a most comfortable floating hotel. Well, I suppose I've said quite enough. I hope anybody who takes the time to read this will respond to it, pro or con. Thanks, Carl Ireton
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I think if any blame can be placed anywhere, it was in the fact that the two wireless operators were inundated with wireless messages to be sent out by various passengers. The important ice message didn't get to the bridge.<<

A very questionable premise under close inspection, I'm afraid. The Masaba Ice Message thing came from Lightoller only one has to wonder what there is to corroberate that. Whatever the case may be, the bridge was anything {but} unaware of the danger of ice. They knew of the reports of ice ahead, discussed it among the members of the watch team, and gave special instructions to the lookouts to be watchful for such things as pack ice and bergy bits. The message from the Masaba would have told them nothing more then what they already knew and what they were watching for.

Absent the Masaba message, they were not going in blind.