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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A Fascinating Curio of Cinematic/Cultural History

4/10
Author: bok602 from United States
9 May 2006

I would love to know what audiences in 1929 thought of this film; how they approached it, what sort of conversation, emotion, thoughts it generated.

The 1912 sinking of the Titanic was the greatest disaster of its time, shaking the social foundations of the period to it core. Society changed as a result, the world changed forever and everybody was touched by it to a greater or less degree.

In many ways, it could be likened to 9/11 in terms of cultural and worldwide impact.

Bearing that in mind -and mindful of the UNITED 93 film which has just been released- I'm very curious as to how an audience of the period would have greeted this fictionalized version of so great a disaster.

Aside from a 1912 newsreel and a one-reel exploitation film of 1915, it strikes me as very significant that 17 years passed before the first real film adaptation of the Titanic disaster was made.

Were film makers so sensitive to the material? Were audiences not ready until almost twenty years after the fact? How different are we today when TV movies pop up sometime within months of events (the David Koresh/Branch Davidian TV flick was being filmed while the standoff was still taking place!)? I'm all in favor of tasteful motion picture depictions of events such as the Titanic, Hindenburg, 9/11 events; but care and sensitivity have to be exercised or else you run the risk of exploitative trash like the Dahmer films.

ALL THAT having been said, this version creaks badly, bears little but superficial resemblance to the actual Titanic disaster and may likely be more akin to a film version of the infamous novel Futility.

The sets are nicely done, though clearly sound stages; the jazz band is a bit out of place (particularly as the ship is sinking!) and the acting is SO wooden they should have held the ship up on their own.

The actual disaster scenes are very well done for the period, the flooding sets still impress and -most surprisingly- the final blackout as the ship goes under -sound effects, screams and crashing played against a black screen- is startlingly effective.

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