Bet You Never Considered “Titanic” An Adaptation


Having read several survivor accounts of the Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage, I have a new respect for the accuracy with which James Cameron created the acclaimed feature film, Titanic.  In many respects, the film has a much stronger factual basis than most viewers probably realize.  Survivors’ tales were in abundance after the sinking, and ultimately were the subject of multiple books, autobiographies included.   Walter Lord’s “A Night To Remember” was a comprehensive book that cohesively strung together the accounts of a variety of passengers, providing a broad overview of the disaster.  Violet Jessop’s, “Titanic Survivor” also sets forth her harrowing account of being in a lifeboat and not saving the lives of other passengers only a short distance away. Although not an adaptation in the typical sense, Titanic was undoubtably based on the information contained in books like these.  I can see James Cameron hunched over them persevering on every detail available in preparation for directing and writing Titanic.

Here are a few details contained in autobiographies and biographies that the film utilized to create the Academy Award winning movie we all know and love:

1. Each night, the ship locked the steerage passengers into the part of ship they occupied, and many of these gates remained locked during the sinking. (Movie: Several scenes where the gates are locked.)

2. The orchestra played “Nearer My God To Thee.” (Movie-The song is played during the sinking.)

3. The lookouts did not have binoculars.  (Movie-Look outs are seen without binoculars, and a scene between two sailors discusses that they had could not find binoculars on board.)

4. Lamb with mint sauce was actually served on the Titanic.  (Movie-“We’ll both have the lamb, with the mint sauce.” – Cal during dinner.)

5. Lifeboats were not filled to capacity.  Lifeboat one, notoriously held less than 25 passengers. (Movie-Mr. Andrews states he saw a boat with too few people, and orders the boats to be filled to capacity.)

6. A passenger finds Mr. Andrews alone without his lifebelt in the study during the sinking and asks him, “Aren’t u going to make a try for it?” (Movie- Scene where Rose asks Mr. Andrews character this very question.)

7. The passengers in the lifeboats were fearful that the boats would be swamped if they attempted to help people in the water.  (Movie- Discussions ensue on the lifeboat with Kathy Bates regarding helping those in the water.)

8. A third class person in the water after the sinking manages to survive because they tied themselves to a wooden door and is picked up by a life boat.  (Movie- Rose survives on a wooden headboard).

9. Passengers thought that other boats would be arriving to help them and that there was no need to get into a lifeboat.  (Movie- Passengers are slow to board the lifeboats.)

10. At some point, people started throwing the ship’s furniture overboard to use as floatation devices.  (Movie-Actors are seen doing this in background of scenes during the sinking.)

Utterly fascinating!  What are your favorite facts about Titanic that made it into the movie?

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