|Index||4 reviews in total|
We are not talking here about a Hollywood blockbuster with mega-stars
in a soap opera love story about the sinking of the Titanic. Far from
it. This is really more of a behind the scenes docu-drama, offering a
look at the struggles of the engineering and electrical crew on the
great ship as they fight to keep Titanic afloat as long as possible so
that more people can be saved, many sacrificing themselves in the
process. It's a nice tribute, certainly mostly dramatized but
believable, and it makes no real attempt to dazzle the viewer. It just
tells the story.
It's slow starting, picking up with the Titanic undergoing sea trials before the beginning of her doomed voyage, and introducing us to the various characters, supposedly based on the testimony of one of the engineers to a tribunal set up in New York City, which is desperately trying to create heroes out of the disaster. We get a sense of the grandeur of the Titanic, but mostly we get a very believable sense of the hot and grimy work taking place deep in the bowels of the ship, as coal is shovelled and the engines are kept burning. The entire focus is on the engineering crew and a handful of electricians. We never see the rest of the crew and no mention is made of anyone else, although there are a handful of scenes including passengers. As the water pours in, you do feel the increasing desperation and your admiration for these men grows as they fight the odds.
There's a good depiction of religious tensions in this (the Protestant- Catholic rivalry in Ireland is very present) and we see the class divisions of the Titanic, not among the passengers, but among the crew themselves, who are segregated into increasingly less comfortable quarters depending on their jobs. All in all, it's a pretty straightforward account of a chaotic event, and of how people handled the chaos. (7/10)
I had to give this the highest rating. It is original. I have read too
many histories of the Titanic to remember them all. After 100 years,
can there be anything left to say about the tragedy? Yes! The producers
and directors take an entirely forgotten tale, add in drama and
"history" and come up with an original contribution to Titanic lore. I
added quotes around "history" because almost none of the electricians,
engineers, engine room crew or technical staff survived. By necessity,
much of this historical drama had to filled in. No one was left to tell
the tale. A viewer, though, has the impression that the writers made
much effort to be true to the characters, the situations, and the
This is a must-see for Titanic buffs or for those who just love tales of a slower and more adventurous time, when people could afford to take a week to cross the Atlantic, men tried to act with honor, and life was filled with a now-forgotten grace.
If you have an interest in the days of the ocean liners or the romance of a bygone era, if you want to hear a lost tale of the Titanic, if you have respect for the people who make things run (like ships' engineers) try this movie. It will not disappoint.
This docu-drama focuses on the various struggles of the engineers,
electricians and workers in the bowls of the Titanic. The struggles
present in the film not only relate to the sinking of the ship, but
also ethnic and religious tensions which were prevalent in 1912.
The best thing about this docu-drama is that it is extremely informative while being entertaining. The set is actually quite good considering its budget and that it is a release-to-TV film. Yes, there are cheesy parts to create a connection with the characters in the film, and no it does not offer the heart-wrenching story expressed in Cameron's 'Titanic'. But it sets out what is intended, to tell the untold story of those who fought and died to keep the Titanic afloat for more than an hour and a half than what was expected, saving countless lives.
The reason for giving this docu-drama an 8 is that it offers a good story, decent acting (for a release-to-TV film), good effects, and its educational aspect. Improvements in the acting and the omittance of certain unnecessary story development would have made this film even better.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Great idea to show the crew's efforts to keep Titanic afloat, but poor
execution. Anyone who has done any detailed research of the testimony
of that night would see fairly quickly that there wasn't much research
done for this documentary. Names of people are correct, and the actors
do look like their characters, but this film makes too much up and only
bares superficial resemblance to real events. Spoilers follow.
The first scene insults the crew of Titanic. Fred Barret is in front of an inquiry that seems to be desperately looking to rewrite history so that the engineers are made to be heroes. Not only did this not happen, and it contradicts the whole thesis of the film, the scene is a result of bad writing, just to try to insert the point that the Engineers and firemen might not be heroes simply because they died or survived.
The first half consists of entirely made up scenes meant to show how Titanic was called unsinkable, that there were probable tensions between a new crew and that there was a coal fire. The Irish religious divide is overplayed. Normally, invented exposition scenes would not be a problem, but the film does not even try to take advantage of actual primary sources to color this. Instead we are forced to sit through quiet scenes, and a purely invented conflict between Fred Barret and Chief Bell instead of actually getting to the important stuff, which there is less and less time for. There is only 1 exception (for approximately 1 minute) when some actual letters are read from the engineers.
The 2nd half is where the inaccuracies truly show. There is a clock throughout showing what time things happened which you are just going to have to ignore while watching this. It notes for example that they started inserting the pumps & emptying boilers an hour after they actually did. It also shows Fred Barret down below emptying dampers when in reality he had already left and was probably on Lifeboat 13 already. The scene where Barret pins Bell to a wall with a knife is pure fantasy as is the ending.
Many important things are omitted. Just after the collision, Chief Bell was on the Boat Deck and had a conversation with Ismay where he convinced him the pumps would keep the ship afloat. This is not even hinted at in the film and contradicted by it. We see Andrews talk to Bell but not the Captain. The distress signal the film claims is the 1st one is wrong. The rockets shoot from the wrong place. Much testimony from survivors like Lawrence Beesley shows the ship kept moving after the collision, stopped, started again at dead slow and finally stopped forever; this is not shown. The firemen were emptying dampers and engineers were using pumps long before Lifeboat 7 was lowered. By approximately 1:00, just after the 1st lifeboat left, it was already too late to save the ship and Boiler Room 6&5 were flooded.
In reality, we are not sure if the Coal Bunker Fire contributed to the disaster and recently, doubt has been cast as to whether it was between Boiler Room 5 & 6 or 6 & the Fireman's Passage. One author has suggested that the grounding of Titanic damaged Boiler Room 6 and 4 but not 5, and not fatally. Thomas Dillon (in the film) noted flooding in Boiler Room 4 (not in the film). Edward Wilding, Harland and Wolff's design representative, testified that the initial damage to Titanic was not enough to sink it. The pumps may have failed and flooded Boiler Room 5, or the bulkhead may have broke (neither are in the film). How Barret survived is also depicted incorrectly. Soon after Shepherd broke his leg, water rushed in from between boilers. Harvey ordered Barret out of the Boiler Room on deck, and all of the engineers there died behind him. This is not even showed.
The film gets some things right. Just after the collision, the lights went dark and were turned back on just when Barrett got the oil lamps. A red light did inform Barret that something was amiss. Alfred White was sent up to investigate. Jonathan Shepherd did break his leg in a manhole, but the Boiler Room was dry when he did it, and the Titanic struck an iceberg. But the numerous mistakes ruin the film. There were also little things I expected to see but didn't. One example, we know Engineer Alfred White (in the film) did brew some coffee in the Engine Room while the Firemen were working; this is not shown. We know Fred Scott freed a trapped crewman in the propeller shaft room, but that's not in the film. We know a lot about what Asst 2nd Engineer Hesketh did, but he's not in the film. I also expected to see the crew help with the lifeboats, and Fred Barret helping to save Lifeboat 13 but that wasn't in the film (the latter is shown briefly in James Cameron's movie).
I'm giving this 4 stars for the idea, the acting, the sets, cinematography, and some technical details which might be the only thing they actually researched. Read A Night to Remember, Barret's British inquiry testimony (as well as other crew members) or David G Brown's new book Titanic Myths, Titanic Truths to get a better idea of what happened down below that night. The sloppy research of this film becomes an insult to the memory of those that died. I find it frustrating that there was so much testimony that could have been used despite all of the engineers dying--that of the firemen, trimmers and greasers who saw them & survived--to reenact so many events the film wants to depict but doesn't.
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