I’ll never forget the first time I learned about the Titanic and what happened to her. The film that is so famous, loved by many and scorned by others came out when I was only 12 years old and of course I wanted to see it. I remember asking my parents what the film was about and getting the basic story of how the ship sank – they seemed unfazed, like this was just another blockbuster from hollywood, probably due to the amount of Titanic films that had previously been made. I know the story peaked my interest and I wanted to learn more before the film came out, so using the limited capability of the internet in 1997 I searched for various facts about the ship and looked mainly at the films website, waiting hours in anticipation whilst the video clips downloaded just to be able to catch a glimpse of what was to come. Most of all I remember learning about how much effort James Cameron had gone too in order to make his film as accurate as possible. After learning as much as I could about the ship and it’s passengers myself and reading their accounts of what happened, I still watch the film today and see little things dotted about, things that happen in the background that you might not notice first time round, that were part of what really happened, that were memories of real people.
Opening up to the film
Nothing could have prepared me for the impact that the Titanic was to have on me. A lot of people slate the story for the romance between Jack and Rose, they see it as just another Hollywood blockbuster, which focuses on fictional characters instead of real ones to try to convey the same story that countless other films have tried to convey before. For me however the love story is simply a conduit. The two characters make it possible for almost anyone to relate to them, whether they are poor or rich, man or woman. For me the impact never came from the love story, it just allowed my mind to open up to the film, to become immersed.
“It shook me to the core”
The point at which I truly understood what happened to Titanic and which struck me the most out of the whole film and which still affects me today is near the end. The moment in which you see the hundreds and hundreds of people screaming out for someone to save them, floating helplessly in the freezing cold water, knowing that no one is coming back. The moment at which the main character, Rose, tells us that close to 1500 people went into the sea that night, and with 20 of the lifeboats still floating nearby, only one boat came back and only 6 people were saved. 6 people out of 1500. Those lines and those images were the ones that stayed in my mind until the end of the film and despite everything that happened before and after, that was what I couldn’t shake. That so many people could have died, needlessly, because of so many little mistakes, so many what if’s and for the first and only time in my life so far I broke down in a cinema and cried. I didn’t cry during the film, I watched it all, I took it all in and then after the credits rolled up and my parents got up to leave, as if that was that and it was just time to go home and carry on as normal, that was when it got me. I stood up, I sat back down and then I broke down and sobbed, to my parents shock and surprise. I didn’t know what to do with myself. It truly shook me to the core that something so devastating could have happened and it was just glossed over by so many people, as if it was just another famous event, as if it was just a story to tell.
It still gets me, still fascinates me in some morbid sort of way, that something so tragic could even have happened in the first place when so many things could have prevented it.
If only the wireless room had sent up the message that came through of the icebergs and flows that stood directly in the path of Titanic. If only she had heeded the ice warnings and slowed down or stopped till daylight came.
If only the California, which could be seen nearby, had heard their distress calls or acknowledged the distress signals and come to their aid.
If only they had enough lifeboats for everyone on board, instead they only carried 20, which was only enough for 1,178 of Titanic’s 2,200 odd passengers and crew. What makes this fact worse is that she could have had more lifeboats on deck but that it was said to look too cluttered.
If only those lifeboats that they did have had been filled properly, fully and had stayed in the general area of the sinking in order to return after she had gone down and pick up the people left in the sea.
These are only a few of the many if only’s that were discovered only after the fact. There are so many little reason’s why Titanic sank on the 15th April 1912, but none of them justify the huge and terrible loss of life that happened. Only 705 people survived out of 2228. I hope that people go on remembering Titanic, as I know I will. I hope that people let the history of Titanic in, and don’t just see it as another film, another over the top story to be told.
I hope against all hopes that something this terrible never happens again.