25 years ago, cinema experienced a fever that will still take time to re-edit. At the final turn of the pre-digital years, director James Cameron released an epic love film, Titanic, which won no less than 11 Oscars and transformed the lives of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet forever. Today, any mystery about the ocean liner that sank that night of April 15, 1912 –that’s right, 110 years ago – seems almost irrelevant. However, the ship was considered the most technologically advanced at the time and was stopped, literally, by the tip of an iceberg. Cameron was obsessed with this story, which claimed the lives of 1,517 people (mostly poor immigrants and men), a tale that combines tragedy, arrogance, and incompetence. When the RMS Titanic‘s carcass was finally found, on September 1, 1985, the ship had been at the bottom of the sea for 73 years. As a good screenwriter, he knew he had an exciting story to tell.
Hollywood, of course, had tried it before. Miniseries and feature films used the tragic journey as a backdrop, but what came closest to being a success was the excellent British docudrama A Night to Remember, from 1958.
With an attention to the smallest details (the dishes were the same as on the ship, people are positioned around the characters exactly as in the reports and photos), James Cameron created the story of the rebellious Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and the determined Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), but he surrounded them of people who were actually on the Titanic. There was a Jack Dawson who died that night, an Irishman who was part of the crew, but that was coincidental. And Rose was inspired by a wealthy young woman in American society, Beatrice Wood, who lived to be 105 and who rebelled against her parents and society, but did not travel on the ship. Apart from that, every narrative of her story served as the basis for the script by Cameron, who invited her to the premiere of the film.
At 23:40 on the night of April 15, 1912, the Titanic and its more than 219 meters in length, crashed sideways into an iceberg estimated to be at least 91 meters long, immediately breaking through the steel hull and sinking in two hours in a freezing sea. To make matters worse, with more than 1,500 people on board, there were only 20 lifeboats, with a capacity for only a third of the people on board the ocean liner. The passengers drowned or died of hypothermia. Help took hours to arrive and was too late. The wreckage was found at a depth of over 3800 meters, in an advanced degree of decomposition, making its removal impossible. The decision to leave him there was also out of respect for the victims.
And on this 110th anniversary, Blue Star Line even announced for this year, 2022, the inauguration of the Titanic II, a replica of the original, with space for 2,400 passengers and 900 crew. The exact date, however, has not been announced or confirmed, it would be right to consider that it missed the original deadline. Which, let’s face it, doesn’t seem like a good sign, right?