Produced by 20th Century Fox/Lightstorm Entertainment/Paramount Pictures
Distributed by 20th Century Fox (non-USA)/ Paramount Pictures (USA)
Written and Directed by James Cameron
Cinematography by Russell Carpenter
Music by James Horner
Production Design by Peter Lamont
Costume Design by Deborah Lynn Scott
Film Editing by Conrad Buff IV, James Cameron, Richard A. Harris
Song "My Heart Will Go On" lyrics by Wilbur Jennings, sung by Celine Dion
20TH ADMITS TITANIC MISTAKE - In response to an outpouring of complaints by the family of Titanic's First Officer, William Murdoch, about how he is portrayed in the Oscar-winning movie, an executive of 20th Century Fox has conceded that "there is no irrefutable link" between the movie character and the real Murdoch. Murdoch, who drowned in the disaster, has been honored with a plaque in the town hall of Dalbeattie, Scotland, his home town, for reportedly showing great heroism in his final hours and, in the end, giving his life jacket to another passenger. Accounts of his valor have been confirmed by historians. In the film, however, he is shown shooting passengers trying to board lifeboats and then turning his gun on himself. As reported in today's (Wednesday) London Times Fox executive vice president Scott Neeson has told Murdoch's relatives that he was happy to set the record straight and that the studio will contribute to an $8,500 memorial fund for Murdoch -- but he stopped short of issuing an apology. (from Studio Briefing 4/8/98)
FAMILY OF TITANIC VICTIM CRIES FOUL - The family of William Murdoch, the Titanic watch commander who is shown committing suicide in the film, has expressed outrage at the scene. Scott Murdoch, 80, has called it "completely fictional" and has insisted that evidence has shown "that my uncle went down with the ship after showing great heroism. (from STUDIO BRIEFING, 1/19/98)
Titanic Sank With a Waltz, Not a Hymn By IAN WHITCOMB, Los Angeles Times Counterpunch, January 12, 1998 - Let's clear up the controversy about the Titanic's band and "Nearer My God to Thee" for all time ("Readers Come to 'Titanic' Critic's Rescue," Calendar, Jan. 3). They never played the hymn. As a music consultant for James Cameron's "Titanic," I provided a British copy of the hymn--with the warning that this doleful piece was never played during the sinking. Common sense alone tells us that, but melodrama dictates differently. Cameron simply purloined the "Nearer My God to Thee" scene from the 1958 British picture, "A Night to Remember," which in turn was copying earlier movie fiction. The myth had been started in 1912--the year the Titanic sank--by New York tabloids. I know this because I researched, produced and conducted the CD, "Titanic--Music as Heard on the Fateful Voyage" (Rhino), a fully documented and accurate rendition of what was really played aboard the ship. Here is my proof: Wallace Hartley, the bandleader, was asked by a reporter --months before he sailed on the Titanic --what he would play in the event of a disaster at sea. He said he'd play "cheerful stuff" such as ragtime. Nothing to cause a panic. "I'd never play 'Nearer My God to Thee,' " he said, for he'd reserve that for his own funeral. As a functionary providing mood music, he knew it was his job to prevent panic, not create it. So he ordered a diet of ragtime on that last night. Survivors have detailed the names of the rag songs--"Oh, You Beautiful Doll," "Alexander's Ragtime Band," etc. Harold Bride, the radio operator, one of the last to leave the ship, told the New York Times (after the tabloids had spread the hymn myth) that the last tune performed was "Songe d'Automne," a then-current pop hit by British dance bandleader Archibald Joyce. It's a beautiful waltz and makes a much more fitting swan song than the wretched hymn. Truth is always richer than fiction. * * * Ian Whitcomb is the producer of "Titanic--Music as Heard on the Fateful Voyage" (Rhino), which last week was nominated for Grammys in two categories (liner notes and packaging). (Ian Whitcomb Is the Producer of "Titanic--music as Heard on the Fateful Voyage" (Rhino), Which Last Week Was Nominated for Grammys in Two Categories (Liner Notes and Packaging))
For want of rivets, Titanic was lost, scholars speculate - By Associated Press, 01/28/98 - NEW YORK - Some of the tiniest and least glamorous things about the Titanic may have helped sink the luxury liner: its rivets.Two of the small metal fasteners salvaged from the ship were found to contain high concentrations of slag, which specialists say made them dangerously brittle, The New York Times reported yesterday. The specialists examined two wrought-iron rivets retrieved from the hull of the ship, which sank nearly 86 years ago off the coast of Newfoundland. "We think they popped and allowed the plates to separate and let in the water,'' William Garzke, Jr., told the newspaper. Garzke, a naval architect, heads a team of forensic specialists looking at the disaster. He said, however, that the findings are tentative, because of the small number of rivets tested by Timothy Foecke, a metallurgist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md. The 46,000-ton Titanic was held together by some 3 million rivets, securing steel beams and plates. A year ago, shipwreck investigators using underwater sonar said they had dispelled the theory that an iceberg slashed a 300-foot gash in the ship's hull. Instead, the researchers contend, the force of the iceberg caused the riveted seams of the hull to pop open, allowing icy water to rush in. In a report, ''Metallurgy of the R.M.S. Titanic,'' to be released next year, the researchers say the slag content of the rivets was more than three times as high as is normally found in modern wrought iron, making it more brittle. Slag is the glass residue left over from smelting metallic ores. It is unclear whether a higher grade of rivets would have saved the ship, Foecke said.
The Toast of the Titanic Oral Tradition Carries On Legend of Lone African American By Dana Hull, Washington Post, December 20, 1997; Page F01 - Titanic hoopla is upon us: the documentary, the musical, now the movie. Yet buried deep in the mythology of the doomed voyage is the story of Shine, a fictional character who lives on through the folk traditions of the African American community. Legend has it that the only black man on board the Titanic was a laborer called Shine -- "shine" being a derogatory term for blacks. Because he worked below deck, Shine was the first to realize that the Titanic was sinking, and thus was able to escape while more than 1,500 passengers perished in the April 14, 1912, disaster. Most stories about Shine take place in the form of "toasts," an improvisational oral narrative popular in black communities from the 1920s to the early 1960s. A form of street poetry, toasts were usually performed in the male provinces of pool halls and street corners, and were passed on from friend to friend. Often as profane as they were misogynistic, the raplike verses reveal a different perspective of the event that currently is being celebrated in the Hollywood blockbuster starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. The Shine toast revels in sharing a smug satisfaction that the Titanic -- a symbol of white European arrogance and affluence -- sank on its maiden voyage. The irony that African Americans were not allowed to make the crossing -- thus sparing their lives -- inspired a wealth of jokes, toasts and ballads. Numerous verses of the various Shine toasts, particularly those that refer to the female anatomy, are not suitable for a family newspaper. But the rhyming verses, which could last for up to 10 minutes, go something like this: Up stepped a black man from the deck below that they called Shine.Hollerin, "Captain! Captain! Don't you know? There's forty feet of water on the boiler room flo'." The captain said, "Go back, you dirty black! We got a thousand pumps to keep this water back." Because Shine exists solely in the oral tradition, verses would vary from teller to teller. Roger Abrahams, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, was one of the few folklorists to record them. "Most versions of the Titanic fit into the same general pattern," he wrote in his 1963 book "Deep Down in the Jungle: Negro Narrative Folklore From the Streets of Philadelphia." There's a "prologue about the terrible day on which the ship sank; the introduction of Shine, the mythical Negro stoker on board the ship; a description of his argument with the captain about whether the ship was sinking; his jumping into the water and his amazing swimming ability described; the captain's offer of money to save him, which he refuses; the offer of the captain's wife and/or daughter of sexual relations with him, which he likewise refuses; a conversation with the shark and/or whale where he claims to be able to out-swim them (which he apparently does); and a final ironic twist in which it is mentioned that Shine swam so fast that by the time news of the sea tragedy arrived, Shine was already inebriated in some specific location." When the news got around the world that the great Titanic had sunk, Shine was in Harlem on 125th street, damn near drunk. Or: When all them white folks went to Heaven, Shine was in Sugar Ray's Bar drinking Seagram's Seven. "Shine is the clever black," says Bruce Jackson, a professor of American culture at SUNY-Buffalo who traveled around the country recording toasts in the 1960s and '70s. "He's the only one on board smart enough to save his life, and he's the only one strong enough to physically swim to shore." Other toasts include stories about a barroom brawl involving Stagger Lee, or tales of the Signifying Monkey, an animal fable in which a clever monkey outwits a lion. "There are a number of toasts," Jackson says of his field recordings. "But I heard the most toasts about the Titanic. It made an enormous impact on the popular imagination of the time. People knew in the black community that it was an all-white ship -- it was part of the White Star Line. When it went down, that was not lost on the community." But the sinking of the Titanic was not solely the province of toasts. Numerous musicians, from guitarist Blind Willie Johnson to the New Lost City Ramblers, recorded songs that told the Titanic tale. Some versions, recorded as "God Moves on the Water," were widely circulated in the 1920s and focused on the spiritual aspects of the accident. The Titanic was a symbol of technological prowess, and some people saw the disaster as divine intervention. It's possible to spend hours listening to Titanic tunes in the majestically dusty archives of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies. Ask archivist Jeff Place for Titanic songs, and he'll pull out album after album: Pink Anderson's Carolina Medicine Show Hokum & Blues, Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers, Mance Lipscomb. Others recall singing a song about "When That Great Ship Went Down" at summer camp. The famed blues guitarist Leadbelly also recorded a Titanic song. His lyrics included the common folklore that Jack Johnson, the black man who was world heavyweight boxing champion at the time, was denied passage on the boat. Jack Johnson wanted to get on board Captain, he said, "I ain't hauling no coal" Fare thee, Titanic, fare thee well. "There are a lot of songs about the Titanic, in part because the story itself is so dramatic," says Anthony Seeger, curator of the Folkways Recordings archives. "Versions of songs about the Titanic have been done with rock, gospel and blues. The clarity in which class distinctions were made on the voyage really resonated in folk culture, and by singing about it Americans were able to comment on their feelings." As Leadbelly sang it: When he heard that mighty shock, Mighta seen that man doin' the Eagle Rock Fare thee, Titanic, fare thee well.