Today it's exactly 100 years ago that the 'unsinkable' RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean, on 15 April 1912. 1517 people lost their lives in this great tragedy, making it not the biggest maritime disaster out of history but still the most legandary one because of the stories surrounding the disaster and the fact that the ship was considered to be unsinkable but yet still sank on its maiden voyage, from Southampton to New York.

Like all big tragedies, also the story of the Titanic spawned countless movies and inspired film-makers all over the world.

The very first Titanic movie

The very first Titanic movie got made and released in 1912. That's right! That's the very same year as the Titanic sank. As a matter of fact, it got released only 29 days after the sinking and got made by silent-film actress Dorothy Gibson (in picture below), who herself was a survivor of the Titanic disaster and one of the highest paid actresses of her time.

The movie, called "Saved from the Titanic", told the fictionalized story of Miss Dorothy, played by Dorothy Gibson, who was recounting the story of her rescue, to her fiancé and parents. To add to the authenticity of the movie, she wore the exact same clothes as she wore during the evacuation of the Titanic.

The movie, directed by Étienne Arnaud, got mostly praised but also to some lesser extend also criticized by the general public. Some people felt it was too soon after the disaster and the movie was exploiting the disaster.
Dorothy Gibson was actually aboard the very first lifeboat, launched under the supervision of First Officer Murdoch, from the ship, along with her mother and 2 friends.
It was not the only tragedy she was involved with during her life. A year after the Titanic disaster, she struck and killed a pedestrian, while riding a sports car in New York.
The car belonged to the movie tycoon Jules Brulatour, head of distribution for Eastman Kodak and co-founder of Universal Pictures, who Gibson had a secret affair with, while Brulatour was still married.

In 1928 Gibson and her mother left for Europe and never returned to the United States again.
She lived mostly in France and Italy. During world war II she got accused of being a Nazi sympathizer and a spy. In 1944 she renounced her involvement, which eventually resulted in her arrest as an anti-Fascist agitator. She spend a short while in a jail in Milan, from which she eventually escaped.

Dorothy Gibson died from a heart attack on 17 February 1946, in Paris, France, at the age of 56. The model, actress and singer starred in a total of 25 movies, which all but one, are considered to be lost today.

The same unfortunately goes for "Saved from the Titanic". The 10 minute short movie got lost in a fire, at the Éclair Studios in March 1914. Only some production stills and promotional pictures remain from it.

Dorothy Gibson will be played by Sophie Winkleman, in the 2012 four-part television miniseries "Titanic".

The most obscure Titanic movie

The most obscure Titanic movie, in my opinion is the 1943 movie called..."Titanic"!
What is so obscure about it? Well, what if I told you that it got made during world war II, by the Nazi Germans!

During world war II the Nazi's made a bunch of propaganda movies, by commission of the Nazi Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels (see picture below).
Point of this movies was to show to the public how 'evil' and 'bad' people such as Jews, socialists and liberals were and how superior the Arian race was.

In this paticular movie, it show how British arrogance and lust for money brought the Titanic to its doom. Themes such as capitalism play a very dominant role in the movie and the hero of the film is a fictional German First Officer, named Herr Petersen, played by Hans Nielsen.

The movie in all honesty is not a bad one, if you can look past all of its propaganda themes. But the production of it was still a mess. It was the most expensive German production up until that time and was supposed to have been released months before its eventual release date.
Creative differences, multiple big egos involved and the fact that this was a movie made under war circumstances made this a trouble ridden production.
At a certain point director Herbert Selpin called a crisis meeting, in which he said some harsh things about the Kriegsmarine officers, who were involved with making the movie. His close friend and the co-writer of the script, Walter Zerlett-Olfenius, reported this the Gestapo, which led up to Selpin's arrest. He got personally questioned by Joseph Goebbels and within 24 hours of his arrest he was found hanging in his cell. His death was ruled a suicide and the movie got eventually finished by the director Werner Klingler.

The movie was first supposed to be shown in May 1943 but the the theatre that had the first print in it for the premiere, got bombed the night before the screening.
Later on the movie still got screened all over Europe but the movie soon got banned by Joseph Goebbels, since he thought that showing people running and screaming around in panic was not something people were interested in seeing, while towns were getting bombed every night and people were running and screaming on the streets everywhere.
He also was less than happy about scenes of the passengers getting split up by the crew members and locked in behind closed gates, which bared a resemblance to what was happening in German concentration camps during that time.

After the war the movie got rediscovered by the Russian and British allied forces, who considered it be a sort of trophy for them. The Russian dubbed version became a huge hit in Russia later on and British film-makers recycled footage from this movie into other productions.
Four clips from this movie even later got used again in the 1958 Titanic movie "A Night to Remember".

The ship used in this movie, that was supposed to resemble the Titanic was the SS Cap Arcona. A cruise ship that was later sunk by the Royal Air Force, just days before the end of the war.

The best Titanic movie

The best Titanic movie in my opinon is without a doubt the 1958 movie "A Night to Remember", directed by Roy Ward Baker, who is perhaps still best known for his work for the Hammer studios, in the '60's and '70's.

It's not only the best Titanic movie but also the one that is widely considered to the most accurate one.

The movie was based on a novel, by the same title, written by Walter Lord. In the novel a lot of real life Titanic survivors got interviewed, which proofed to be also one of the secrets for the succes of this movie, later on. During the production of "A Night to Remember" a lot of the remaining Titanic survivors, such as for instance Titanic's Fourth Officer, Joseph Boxhall and historians got consulted, which all eventually led up to this movie becoming the most realistic retelling of the Titanic story, even though it still has some innacuracies in it but these are all mostly things there weren't know yet about the disaster at the time, since the Titanic wreckage hadn't been discovered yet.

My previously written review of the movie:

With all the different Titanic versions out there, this is still the one to beat. Even though it doesn't use any fancy effects or other expensive stuff the movie still manages to tell a dramatic story effectively better than any other Titanic movie.

What this movie does well is that it doesn't pick a main character. It allows the story to be told from multiple different angles, with different characters at different settings. Because of this the movie can almost be seen as a documentary like telling of the events that led up to the sinking of the Titanic and the actual sinking and its aftermath. Because of this this movie has also been always regarded as the one that tells the 'true' story of the Titanic. This not in the least also due to the involvement with this movie of many survivors of the actual disaster.

The movie also doesn't waste a lot of time. The sinking already begins before the halve way point of the movie. There is little room for dramatization or character building. This is something that works well for the overall realism and later chaos of the movie.

The sinking itself, as you would expect, forms the best part of the movie. It also seems that it isn't until then that we start to know the different characters of the movie. It's really done impressively, also especially when you're considering that this movie at the time only cost an estimated $1,680,000 to make, which even at the time wasn't a lot of money for a movie of this scale.

It's a surprisingly classy movie from director Roy Ward Baker, the man who I know best for directing some of the late Hammer Production movies. Movies which aren't exactly known for their class.


The worst Titanic movie

Not that I have actually seen this movie but the absolute worst Titanic movie of all time and maybe just the worst animated movie in general, is the Italian production "Titanic: La leggenda continua...". Or also known as "Titanic: The Legend Goes On..", or as simply "Titanic: The Animated Movie", directed by Camillo Teti, from the Titanic Cartoons. Yes really, that was the name of the studio that did this movie.

It's a movie that currently holds a 1.3 rating on, which even currently places it on the number 1 spot, in the IMDb Bottom 100. In other words, the IMDb voters consider this movie to be the absolute worst movie of all time!

So what makes it so bad? First of all, it already is a terrible idea to make an animated movie for children about one of the biggest disasters and tragedies in human history. It's even more worse when the movie is simply made for entertainment purposes only!

It's a movie that features both human and talking animal characters in it, such as for instance a detective named Sam Bradbury, who looks exactly like Sherlock Holmes, a bunch of  Yiddish mice, a band of stereotypical Mexican mice and a rapping dog named Fritz. Watch this video below if you don't believe me!
Some people still debate about it which was the biggest disaster; the Titanic disaster or this movie.

Titanic II

So what is this? A straight to DVD sequel to James Cameron's "Titanic"? No, "Titanic II" is a movie, released by Asylum films, that I think is worth mentioning because of its absurdity.

What is so absurd about it is that this movie is about a new, luxury cruise liner, that is build to look exactly as the first Titanic. On the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster (which is today!) the ship embarks on its maiden voyage. And yes indeed, it's  using the same route the first Titinac was supposed to take. What do you think, while this movie end well? Well, I'm not going to spoil it for you but let me just say that a very sudden case of global warming and a tsunami of icebergs is involved with this movie.

In all honesty, it's not a movie that is as bad or ridicules as its sounds, as long as you are willing to take it as a standalone movie and ignore the fact that there are other Titanic movies out there and this movie is trying to be a modern update of an 100 year disaster, which is a bit crazy once you start thinking about it too much.

My previously written review of the movie:

No, of course this movie is not being a sequel to the 1997 James Cameron movie. It's just a smart move from the studios to name their picture "Titanic II" and I'm sure that the title alone has already earned them lots of money. The title refers to the name of a new modern luxury liner, that got build in the honor of the 100th anniversary of the original voyage, of the original Titanic, who's faith we all know. The ship is like an almost exact copy of the Titanic from the outside but with all new modern equipment and decks on the inside.

I have seen dozens of really, really bad movies but this movie is simply not being one of them. Yes, its like being a modern B-movie but not all B-movies are also automatically bad ones. This is obviously not a great movie but at least it was one I was entertained by throughout, no matter how ridicules it all got at times.

It's definitely true that this movie features one ridicules concept and story. You could even say that this is being one of those movies that tries to warn us about global warming and its preachy main message can get quite annoying at times. But the story on its own can get way more annoying because of how ridicules and extremely unlikely it all is. But I just see this movie as an adventure movie and adventure movies just never feature the most likely of plots and events. As an adventure movie, this one is simply maintaining enough.

It's a special effects loaded movie and all of the CGI are all quite fake looking but still they are pretty good. It sounds pretty cryptic but once you have seen this movie you will probably know what I mean. I think we have reached the point now that even bad and cheap movies can feature effects that are way better and more convincing looking than we could ever had imaged 10 years ago. I have to say that this movie did a pretty good job with its restrained budget and the only true horrible thing about this movie are its extra's, who are all walking around and looking like non-actors, as if they got picked of the street or were simply being friends or family of the movie its cast and crew members. Their reactions to certain things are incredibly lame and unintentionally funny.

The rest of the cast isn't much impressive either, expect for Bruce Davison. He had a decent streak of good movie roles but it looks like he's back to the B-movie genre these days. A shame, since he definitely has the right talents, though he is certainly beginning to look like an old man now, so I don't have high hopes for another career revival for him.

I think its quite funny how this movie its lead is being played by the same guy who also wrote and directed this movie. Quite unseen and unheard off. The guy I'm speaking of is Dick Van Dyke's grandson Shane 'Ola Toivonen' Van Dyke.

Seriously, this movie is not half as bad as it sounds, or as its title would perhaps suggest. Give it a shot and simply see it as an adventurous, old fashioned, silly disaster movie.


Well, that concludes my list of some note worthy Titanic movies for now, on the 100th anniversy of the Titanic disaster. But stay tuned for more Titanic movie stories and information! In the mean while, look here for a full list of Titanic movies, series and documentaries:

About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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