Titanic at the Movies
The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic has prompted many reflections on the tragedy, not least in the April issue of History Today, in which Andrew Wells writes about the many on-screen representations of the disaster. Below are a few clips from the films he discusses.
Remarkably, the first film of the disaster was produced within a month of the sinking. Saved from the Titanic starred Dorothy Gibson, herself a surivor of the ill-fated ship:
The same year a German production, In Nacht und Eis (In Night and Fog) was made, although it was not released in the wider English-speaking world. Here's a clip:
The first 'talkie' was made in 1929 in Great Britain, and was called The Atlantic, based on a stage play called The Berg. The entire film can be watched online (skip to 1:51 to avoid the introduction)
One of the more unusual films made was the Nazi production Titanic, a piece of propaganda that showed the owners of White Star Line as greedy and corrupt. Here's a clip of the opening scene, which sets out the film's premise: the ship is to be driven at breakneck speed across the Atlantic in order to win the 'Blue Riband' and hence rescue the company's falling share price:
The finale of the film includes some impressive shots of the ship sinking and one final comment: "the deaths of 1,500 remain unatoned for, an eternal condemnation of England's thirst for power'.
In 1953 the Americans were back at it with a feature film on the sinking. Here's the scene where Titanic strikes the iceberg, at the 7:30 mark:
Five years later came one of the most famous films on the subject: A Night to Remember. Here's the film's trailer:
Finally, we have the 1997 version of Titanic, directed by James Cameron and starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. The film also benefited from actual footage of the ship's wreckage on the ocean bed, which was discovered in September 1985. Here's the trailer:
Finally, here's a promo for a new television series about the sinking, called Titanic, to be broadcast on ITV this year:
'A Night to Forget', Andrew Well's article about the different re-tellings of the Titanic story, is in the April issue of History Today, which also carries an essay about how the disaster traumatised Southampton, the city from which she sailed. The issue is out March 22nd. Subscribe today and ensure you don't miss it.
- Middle East
- North America
- South America
- Central America
- Early Modern
- 20th Century
- 21st Century
- Economic History
- Environmental History
- Historical Memory
- Science & Technology