Why do people dislike the 1997 Titanic movie?

> I would have conceded that it was an OK film
> (and no more) if it was totally fictional.

EXACTLY. That statement is the problem with the film.

Other epic historical love stories are different because they take a massive event and place fictional characters in it. Gone with the Wind (Civil War), Dr. Zhivago (Russian Revolution), etc. etc.

The event of the sinking of the Titanic is a small event. It wasn't a multi-year war involving millions of people. It was a 4-day event that involved 2000 people. It was too specific of an event for historians NOT to nitpick.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Apr 21, 2009
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>>>>> The event of the sinking of the Titanic is a small event. It wasn't a multi-year war involving millions of people. It was a 4-day event that involved 2000 people. It was too specific of an event for historians NOT to nitpick. <<<<<<

Agreed. I think the phrase "too specific" explains why fictional characters can be acceptable with some historic events but not in others. We cannot dissect minute-by-minute chronology of the American Civil War or the Russian Revolution because of the vast scope of those events. But this forum is a good example why the same thing cannot apply to the Titanic, especially after the ship left harbour.
 
May 27, 2007
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You nailed it, Jeremy and you also Arun, although I think GWTW and Dr. Zhivago had their own nit pickers and nay sayers back in the day!

For the longest time I hated Titanic even though I saw it 3 times and dragged my family to see it! Now I look at it applaud the film for getting folks interested in Titanic!
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Even if certain folks did nothing but gush about Jack and Rose there were others who were interested in the ship and her passengers and crew who weren't before!
 

Rich Hayden

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Jul 17, 2014
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Yeah, I think it was one of Ken's paintings of the ship sinking.

As others have said, the recreation of the ship was very enjoyable, even it's all horribly over-lit, but...that script, the whole Jack\Rose thing, the risibly simplistic characterisation...just no.

I really appreciate what Cameron has done in exploring the wreck but I think the movie is almost unwatchable. Even worse, every Google Image search relating to the ship and people on board now returns results dominated by the film.

There's just no getting away from it.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Apr 21, 2009
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>>>> Now I look at it applaud the film for getting folks interested in Titanic! Even if certain folks did nothing but gush about Jack and Rose there were others who were interested in the ship and her passengers and crew who weren't before!<<<<

Yes, but it got the wrong sort of folk interested in the Titanic. I believe that true Titanic buffs were already interested a long time before. Many people, my father-in-law among them, believe that the Titanic lookouts missed seeing the iceberg early enough because they were too busy oggling a kissing couple - as depicted in the film.
 

Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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Hi Martin,

Take a look around you. Have a look at the mountains of debates that have taken place on a vast range of issues related to the Titanic on these very discussion boards, never mind outside of them. If historians and enthusiasts can't even agree on the exact story of what happened to the Titanic, then how is a film maker supposed to do so?

Name me one film in the history of cinema which has stuck stubbornly to every single ascertained fact. I can't think of any.

As I said before, you can't please everyone, no matter what you do. It is one of the few things that is completely impossible to do. So, that being the case, the next best thing you can do is create something interesting which is going to bring people into the cinema.

And you know what? It's thanks to movies like Cameron's that new generations of Titanic enthusiasts enter the fold, which is vital now that those who were there to tell the original story have now all gone. If a little embellishment here and there is what it takes to keep the story alive, then so be it, because as I mentioned before, nobody can agree on the full truth of the original story anyway!

Cheers,
Adam.
 
May 27, 2007
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Good point Arun! But I think there are a few young Titanic buffs out there who got interested in Titanic because of the film and want to know about the real ship! At least I hope so!
 
May 3, 2005
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I think the reason most people don't like the "1997 " is simply because of the fictional characters......Jack, Rose, etc .
I really like it for all the details of the ship, even though they may not be exactly right .

I think the reason that most of the Titanic enthusiasts like the "1958" is that most of the characters are based on real life persons or at least composites of real life persons .

And despite its reputation as "the worst Titanic movie ever made" , the "1953" has at least 2 redeeming features IMHO. :
(1) Annette and Gifford angle is more believable than Rose and Jack
(2) Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb

And IMHO , the "1943" ,(Nazi) is at the very bottom of the list.
 
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I think you've gotta remember it's a film and by definition is never going to be 100% accurate. Just about any "historical" movie ever made you could say that about especially ones with a contrived romantic plot line (e.g. "Pearl Harbour"). Cameron got a lot of things right and if I too find some bits irritating (the bit where Jim teaches Rose how to spit seems especially strange) I'd forgive Cameron for attempting to do justice to a great if tragic story. If anything it's helped generate interest - it might have cemented and created a few myths but myth not only distorts history it also sustains it in the memory.
 

Rancor

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Rumor has it that when pitching the movie to the studio execs, James Cameron had a picture of the Titanic on a large board at the front of the conference room. Once everyone had taken their seats he said "ladies and gentlemen. Romeo and Juliet on this ship" and walked out of the room.
 
May 3, 2005
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In defense (or maybe apology) for "us nitpickers", of which I fall into the category of being strictly in the amateur ranks.:

In my experience, I have been in technical fields where everything had to be more or less exactly correct and perhaps I expect everything to be exactly correct in movies such as those regarding Titanic, when it's really best to treat a movie as fiction for entertainment's sake, necessitated by the end results of successes at at the box office.

This is true in all the versions of "Titanic"...even ANTR has a few glaring errors.

I once took to task another movie, filmed in the local area with locations of which I was familiar.
An old lady lived in a near-slum area and was show attending a church in one of the most affluent areas in the United States. This didn't exactly "follow the dots"...but again, the movie was pure fiction and in the end "just a movie."

I don't believe Captain Smith was actually diverted from his duties by listening to Giff and Annette singing College Songs in "Titanic" (1953) any more than Fleet and Lee were distracted by the goings on of Jack and Rose in "Titanic" (1997). LOL.

And as for "Pearl Harbor"...that scene showing listening to the radio transmissions of planes over Tokyo....as an old "ham radio operator"...(snashing of teeth)..... ;-)

However, I think maybe this website is evidence of the interest generated by the "Titanic" movies...It has been, at least in my case. At least this website seems to be the place to " just get the facts, ma'am."
 

Arun Vajpey

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>>>>>> Just about any "historical" movie ever made you could say that about especially ones with a contrived romantic plot line (e.g. "Pearl Harbour") <<<<<<<

Thank for mentioning "Pearl Harbor" because that film, along with its predecessor, perfectly illustrates the point that I was making earlier.

"TORA! TORA!! TORA!!!" is an excellent film about the Pearl Harbour attack, depicting events close to, if not with 100% historical accuracy. But what appealed most to me about the film is its semi-documentary approach where there are no 'central characters' and side stories as such. Yet, the film worked very well and is now considered as a classic. "Pearl Harbor" on the other hand is more about a romantic triangle that takes place with the attack in the background. Despite some great special effects - the Arizona bomb sequence was one of the best shot scenes that I have ever seen - the move is easily forgotten.

Likewise, I believe that a modern film about the Titanic should have been in the 'Tora Tora Tora' mould; instead, it is more like 'Pearl Harbor'.
 

Kyle Naber

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What I didn’t like was the film’s portrayal of Lightoller and Murdoch.
I don't know, it kinda seemed to me that ANTR made them seem like perfect people who never felt any panic during the evacuation. I like how Cameron's version shows more of a human element to them. I do disagree with the idea that Murdoch would have shot himself, though.
 
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I don't know, it kinda seemed to me that ANTR made them seem like perfect people who never felt any panic during the evacuation. I like how Cameron's version shows more of a human element to them. I do disagree with the idea that Murdoch would have shot himself, though.
I know Cameron was going for high drama and it was a fictional movie but I agree he should have left that out. No need to trash a real person with no definative proof. I wish he would of have covered some more of the radio traffic between the ships. But thats just my opinion coming from a history geek. He obviously knew how to make a blockbuster.
 

Rob Lawes

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Cameron needed a common thread story line that would take the viewer from sailing to sinking. In all areas and classes of the ship and give himself a framework within which to hang key events and personalities with a good deal of artistic licence. That's what the Jack and Rose story allows him to do.

It looks visually impressive throughout but there are some unnecessary elements such as the suicide of Murdoch that are completely unproven in reality and should have been left out.
 
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SmileyGirl

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I don't know, it kinda seemed to me that ANTR made them seem like perfect people who never felt any panic during the evacuation. I like how Cameron's version shows more of a human element to them. I do disagree with the idea that Murdoch would have shot himself, though.
That’s a fair point. I liked Cameron’s Murdoch but I didn’t like his Lightoller. I was upset about the suicide when there is no evidence. But even if Murdoch did to that, he’s still a true hero in my eyes.