From: Glasgow, Scotland
I've written about Georgians on Titanic. In doing so, I read a great deal of information about what happened and interviewed some of leading experts (at the time, anyhow - around 2002). The hisorical portrayal of what happened is pretty accurate - especially the physical aspects of the ship taking on water, foundering, and breaking up.
Now the love story added to appeal to audiences? That was pretty cringe-worthy. But the movie is a credible portrayal of a momentous historical event.
It's Romeo and Juliet set on a historical event. As I've said above, nobody gives Shakespeare stick for getting the nuance of Danish medieval politics wrong.
It's been a long time since I've seen Titanic, but nothing stands out in my memory that was horrendous in the portrayal of First Officer Murdoch.
William McMaster Murdoch was not a made up character. He was very real. He served as an officer on board Titanic on that fateful night.
As far as we know from all the witness statements, Officer Murdoch did his duty that night, despite the fact that as an officer he knew he was unlikely to survive the sinking.
Yes there were reports of an officer shooting himself just before Titanic went down, but even if correct, there are no witnesses that can confirm who that officer was.
But Cameron decided it was Murdoch. But that is not the least of it. Because Cameron also decided to make First Officer Murdoch a bribe-taking coward who murdered two unarmed steerage class passengers (Irish naturally) before shooting himself.
Apparently the scenes were altered from the original Cameron dreamed up to make the bribe taking more ambiguous. But the given the way Murdoch throws the money back at Billy Zane's character (and the narrative that goes with it), there is little doubt what was being conveyed - and to suggest otherwise is simply disingenuous.
So this officer, a man who did his duty in helping to save passengers, and has a memorial in his hometown of Dalbeattie in Scotland where he is considered a hero, and where at the time the film was made he had close relatives (nephew) still living, has his name trashed for no good reason than making a buck.
I read quite a considerable bit on the sinking, but quite some time in the past so I may not be exactly up to speed.
Agreed that it was insensitive to use a named character. IIRC Cameron himself acknowledged and apologised for it, but some thoughts:
- There are far too many independent accounts of a officer shooting himself for it to simply not have happened.
- The general consensus (last I checked) is that it was Murdoch who committed suicide, given the fact that he was in charge when the ship struck the iceberg. Occam's Razor, at any rate, makes sense here.
- From a quick glace at the screenplay, I think it was intended to be played off as Murdoch having too much to do to be interested in some first class passenger throwing wads of cash around. That wasn't how it came across on screen, however.
- The bribe always seemed more a mechanic to reflect Cal's nefariousness plot than Murdoch, who does make a point of coming clean before the end.
- For Murdoch, the shooting of the Irish character serves to put a actual human cost on the collision with the iceberg. As well as a less subtle commentary on class conflict in the film - after all the overwhelming majority of casualties were third class.
The really interesting thing for me is that if you cut the bribery twist out, there's a strong argument based on the historical evidence that:
- Murdoch was armed
- there definitely was shooting, at people or otherwise
- An officer (very likely Murdoch) did shoot themselves as the ship started on it's final plunge.
Soz . I must confess I haven't watched it since the one and only time at the cinema 22 years ago. The taste it left in my mouth has never gone away. So much heroism, so much good about the human spirit on show to be celebrated that night in the midst of such an awful tragedy - but Cameron was only really interested in faux political statements and cheap cliches. Yes there is a place for showing the other side, and what can happen to humans under the most intense pressure, but to use an actual character in that way with no proof to support what he was being accused of is disgusting.
I think you're wrong on Cameron's motivations. I think it's the recent Nat Geo documentary where he discusses the extent to which he developed an emotional connection to the story after diving on the wreck, and had a desire to get the story right as a result.
I'm sure he even had an edit done to the film when someone pointed out that the stars at night were wrong for that time of year.
< Message edited by mind_messing -- 9/17/2019 9:44:38 PM >