The ultimate Titanic Movie

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Jun 12, 2004
Hey, all . . .

I was recently reading a thread and saw something that I thought should have its own thread: the ultimate Titanic movie!

Before anyone asks, the ultimate Titanic movie is defined as the most authentic, realistic, fact-based, dramatic, action-packed, humorous, and thoroughly covered movie possible (meaning: that which would, more or less, satisfy those of the Titanic community).

Jeremy Aufderheide started it with:


I'd love to see a hybrid of 3 Titanic films:

1) Some of the dialogue from SOS Titanic.
2) The facts of A Night to Remember.
3) The sets from James Cameron's movie.

What else can we throw into the mix?

(Hey, Jim, I hope you contribute something here when you get back from your [very well relaxed] hiatus in Texas. You've been very outspoken and critical regarding Cameron's movie, so the conception of the "ultimate" Titanic movie would somehow be incomplete without your input, hehe)​
Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina
>>What else can we throw into the mix?<<

The real unembellished history would be a damned good start. Unfortunately, it would seem that the only particular group which has had that novel idea is our membership.
May 3, 2005
IMHO the problem of the "Ultimate Titanic Movie" is that there is soooooooo much to the story...or as Paul Harvey would say "The rest of the story."

Probably a three part series might be the answer to the problem.:
1. "Titanic I : The Grand Idea " : Starting with the conception, design and construction; ending with the sea trials.
2. "Titanic II : The Grand Ship" : Starting with the sailing and ending with the sinking.
3. "Titanic III" : The Aftermath " : The aftermath...Starting with the American and British investigations,etc.; ending with the discoveries of the wreck..."And the story goes on !"

Will C. White

Apr 18, 2007
I already had a go at this in another thread here. There's so much material that my idea was a TV miniseries-5 3 hour parts, like 'Roots' or 'Winds Of War'. You pack in a lot of guest stars, and not all are in every episode. I think that's the only way without a fictional centerpiece off which all else "hangs" (Jack and Rose), or "Lights" in ANTR.
What kind of dramatic story would there be with the building and the aftermath? The occurrences during these times were not dramatic, but they were everyday life. If not everyday life, they were people sitting in chairs talking. I don't see how they could be compellingly dramatized on screen.

I can see them being prologues and epilogues. But what kind of story would there be for these two parts that would keep the momentum going with the entire audience knowing what part 2 holds?

Without a central character (i.e. Lightoller in ANTR or Jack/Rose in Titanic), there is no character development, no story arc, and nothing to engage the audience or make them care about the proceedings. It's merely a documentary that they would expect to see on the History Channel.

A movie has a dramatic structure with characters and a story that these characters play out. A documentary is the events faithfully illustrated or acted out. We're up to our elbows in documentaries.

I'd say structure it like this:

Ismay and Lord Pirrie have the idea. Andrews is brought into the story to plan. As he designs and consults with builders, etc. all of the features of the ship will be explained. Launch. Sea trials, at which point Captain Smith becomes a character.

April 10. We meet other characters such as Lightoller, Lawrence Beesley, Margaret Brown (using her proper name), etc. etc. Ismay and Andrews and Smith are carried over from the prologue. These roles are all cast with recognizable stars a la The Poseidon Adventure or Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express. Each character has their own arc (Ship of Fools, Grand Hotel), which makes sense because some of the most compelling people on the ship had definite quests on their voyage or stories behind their travel on the ship.

These characters are followed throughout the voyage and the sinking scenes, faithfully recreated using snippets of actual dialogue reported, augmented with each character's individual story.

The ship sinks. The survivors survive. Carpathia, blah blah.

Media blitz, reporters stalking survivors on the Carpathia. Inquiries. All done in montage. The final shot is blackness and then a light illuminates the rusting wreck for the first time. Credits roll.

You have a) a dramatic story b) room for stars and their personalities c) all-encompassing story to satisfy the purists.
Jun 12, 2004

No argument from me, but do we really want to leave out Bob Ballard and his discovery? That is a very significant day in the story of Titanic, as it sparked interest once again, interest that has lead to further expeditions. Wouldn't the ideal movie go beyond the sinking?

By the way, when I said the ultimate Titanic movie, I was referring to drawing parts and elements from already existing movies to create the most ideal one. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
There are parts of the Titanic story that just can't be successfully dramatized. Ballard sat for days looking at images of mud on a television screen (can't you just hear critics finding irony in that). If we start adding things like that, we need to add Lord's researching and writing of ANTR which is a key part of the Titanic story.

Have you ever seen the Russian version of WAR AND PEACE which was subsidized by the Russian government in the late 1960s? The scope of that film is unimaginable. Clocking in at 8+ hours and featuring literally thousands of extras (40,000 in one scene alone, I read), it's really a masterpiece of filmmaking from the standpoint of production scale. It fails drastically on the all-right-already-let's-get-on-with-it scale.

Dramatizing anything beyond the voyage, sinking and rescue would fall into the Russian WAR AND PEACE trap.

My ideal movie wouldn't deal with anything beyond the maiden voyage and sinking.

Can we add to my list the chemistry of Stanwyck and Webb? I don't know what characters we could apply that to, but it would be fun.

While I dislike the majority of TITANIC '53...I have to admit that the two of them crackle. (I'm seriously considering doing my own edit of that film, and cutting those snotty kids out entirely...especially every line in which Annette calls him "angel", which will drop the running time by half).
Jun 12, 2004
How about a miniseries revolving around the inqueries with flashbacks that fill in the story? This way, the story of the sinking reflects that testimonies. Any inaccuracies or inconsistencies, then, would be due to the survivor accounts and not poor or inadequate research.

Eric Longo

Aug 13, 2004
Hi All,

Hmm... first thing I'd do is not show the ship at all. Been done. Credits over debris and lifeboats from a high angle and distance. I'd start at Pier 54 and follow some average non-famous folk from various backgrounds and show that effect all this had on them over the years. That to me seems a story. Wonder what Jim K. would think of this idea.

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