6th November 2023
On Valentine’s day, a friend and I visited the Odeon at Liverpool One, a treat to ourselves for a single person’s worst day! I had been overjoyed at the prospect of the 4K revival of Titanic. Happier still when I realised that our showing was in 3D. The Titanic (both in history and film) has always been a key interest of mine. By the time the 14th of February rolled around, I’m sure that my friends were sick of me always talking their ears off about obscure trivia I’d picked up from multitudes of documentaries.
The Odeon had aptly made Titanic the key feature of the foyer. A large cardboard prop of the bow of the ship had appeared. This allowed couples to recreate the iconic, “I’m flying Jack” scene – a sweet addition for Valentine’s day. We found our way to screen 8 and were excited for the film to begin. We pulled out our popcorn and snacks (rightfully bought from Tesco Express) of sweet popcorn, Haribo Supermix and Dr. Pepper.
I worried initially about the 3D, as it has been known to ruin the integrity of a film. It sometimes also lacks in adding anything to the overall experience. However, I am elated to report that it complemented Titanic beautifully. From the beginning, when the rover is exploring the Atlantic Ocean, the 3D added an awe-inspiring depth to the ocean. When the camera hit the boat, out of the darkness, the expanse of the surroundings had me breathless.
The 4K rerelease was a wait worth waiting for. Each scene’s quality had only improved and was very easy on the eyes. Revisiting the film again was an overwhelmingly joyful experience. The flow and pace made the 3-hour flick feel less draining than a usual lengthy film.
The magnificent love story of Jack and Rose does not begin to cover the terrible ache for those onboard. James Cameron undoubtedly brought all of his characters to life but those of you who were devastated by the elderly couple at the end may not know that they were based on the real-life story of Isidor and Ida Straus.
The couple (interestingly the great-great-grandparents of the singer King Princess) were co-owners of the US department store Macy’s and were returning home from a winter in Europe on the RMS Titanic. When the ship was sinking, the old-fashioned gentleman insisted on staying aboard until all the women and children were escorted to lifeboats, despite the couple both being offered a place as part of the ‘elderly’ contingent. Ida refused to leave without her husband, saying, “we have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go”, saving her maid instead and wrapping her in her own fur coat. The pair were last seen arm-in-arm in, “the most remarkable exhibition of love and devotion.”
The true beauty of the 1997 Titanic is James Cameron’s dedication to telling real stories. Even of those in the background. His ability to take accountability for his actions should also be admired.
One story he aimed to tell was of First Officer William Murdoch. Fans of the film will recall Murdoch as the Officer who shot two others and then himself, during the panic and hysteria of the sinking. Eyewitnesses have supported an event like this occurring, yet the identity of it being First Officer Murdoch was only a rumour.
After watching the film, his nephew objected to this depiction, as it spoke negatively to the character of a dead man. A man who had worked tirelessly to lower as many lifeboats as possible, at a pace faster than any other. Cameron later apologised and film executives even travelled to the nephew’s hometown, to personally apologise. Something not often seen in the dramatisation of a tragedy – with many directors villainising real people with little regard for the effect on the families. Cameron has always involved the families of real survivors and victims in his conversations on the tragedy and he does his best to capture the real personalities of these people.
In film, it can be difficult to reconcile the tragedy as reality, yet Titanic has very little of this problem. It is easy to see that the extras and side characters had to fight to try and survive. Each person who jumped, each person who was the camera focused on, was a real person and they were terrified.
Liverpool holds its own special piece of Titanic history, as our very own Maritime Museum has its own Titanic exhibition (which I could not recommend highly enough). It explores the link between Liverpool and the tragedy and includes some very interesting trivia. One thing I learnt from the exhibition was that the musicians (famed in the film for playing ‘Nearer my God to Thee‘ whilst the ship sank) were contracted to White Star by the Liverpool firm of C.W. & F.N. Black. The exhibition also boasts props from the 1997 film, including Rose’s butterfly hairpin and hair comb. Visiting is necessary for any fans of Titanic or anyone who needed a dose of reality after getting lost in Jack and Rose falling in love. The plaques of victims’ names (those rescued highlighted in green) by class put the film back into perspective.
In my opinion, this was an amazing theatrical return for Titanic. It was the best gift Cameron could have given us for the 25th Anniversary and personally made my Valentine’s Day exponentially better. I hope that its popularity encourages a new generation to marvel at Cameron’s masterpiece. Hopefully, getting involved in learning about the tragedy’s fascinating history. Titanic (1997) is the perfect lead into learning, due to the care James Cameron has for the history and accuracy of his sets, props and characters.
For Anti-Valentine’s film recommendations – Check out Valentine’s Shmalentine’s: 5 Films to Watch When you Don’t Want a Rom-Com