James Cameron’s Titanic Explorer

PORTFOLIO MATERIAL:  Excerpts from the CD-ROM "James Cameron’s Titanic Explorer" ©1997 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Paramount Pictures Corporation. Used by permission.

The first three of these six samples are taken from a voiceover script that accompanies video footage or pan-and-scan montages. The next three come from text links where further references are provided.

 

Voiceover Script Excerpt: "The New York Incident"

Titanic’s propellers turn as the tugs cast off their lines. Her size and power set up a strong current in the narrow, crowded channel. A ship owned by the American Line, the steamer New York, rises on Titanic’s swell.  As she falls, her lines break with sounds like gunshots. Her bow is sucked uncontrollably into Titanic’s wake. Captain Smith reverses the engines at the last second, as the tugboat Vulcan heads off the drifting liner, stopping her just four feet from Titanic’s hull. Titanic waits for the New York to be floated out of the way before cautiously proceeding. Now one hour behind schedule, she turns into Southampton Water and makes for open sea.

 

Voiceover Script Excerpt: "Lifeboat 15 Launched from the Starboard Side"

At 1:40 am, starboard Lifeboat 15 is the fourteenth to be launched. Passengers include Steward John Hart and 25 Third Class women and children that he has just escorted from the Aft Well Deck. As the boat descends, those aboard notice that lifeboat 13 has drifted below them. They scream up to stop the lowering, but the deck crew cannot hear them. Passengers below try to hold off the 5-ton Lifeboat 15 with their upturned hands. Thinking fast, Stoker Fred Barrett and Seaman Robert Hopkins lunge across their fellow passengers to cut the lines. Lifeboat 13 drifts out of the way just before Number 15 slaps down in the water, launched overloaded with 70 people.

Voiceover Script Excerpt: "The Carpathia Heads Out"

8:50 a.m. Carpathia’s decks and saloons are crowded with Titanic survivors, her own passengers helping the stewards provide aid and comfort. This vacation cruise has truly become a mission of mercy.

The ship sails over the location of the sinking. A little wreckage and only one floating body are visible. The ice field is a low wall, blinding white in the sun. One berg stands out, its base marked with what could be a scrape of Titanic’s paint. Captain Rostron asks his purser and chief steward for a full survivor count, and prepares to return to New York.

Rostron has one more request before leaving the area. Episcopal priest Roger Anderson agrees to lead prayers in this moment of tragedy. There is thanksgiving for the survivors, followed by a brief funeral for the lost. The sobbing survivors are overpowered by grief.

Text Link: "Titanic as a Sectarian Billboard"

While the work force at Harland and Wolff is often portrayed as a happy, cooperative community, Belfast in 1912 was a city divided. The Catholic population was 40%, but it was distrusted by the Protestant majority because of its nationalist aspirations. As a result, the labor market for skilled work was all but closed to Catholics, and they made up less than 3% of the shipworkers. The Protestants took advantage of the fact that they were building ships taller than anything else in town. Without permission, they painted anti-Catholic slogans on the ships' hulls, visible from all over Belfast. Catholics believed that Titanic was doomed because of such blasphemous graffiti, and even though the slogans were eventually painted over, rumors must surely have spread. This may account for Second Class passenger Nora Keane's vision of disaster as she boarded Titanic at Queenstown, Ireland. Miss Keane dropped her rosary and prayerbook because she was frightened by numbers on the hull which, when reflected in the water, read, "No Pope." There were no such numbers on Titanic's plates, and according to many witnesses, the water that day was too choppy to see such a detailed reflection.

Text Link: "The End of Captain Smith"

Captain Edward J. Smith, already a popular figure in the world of transatlantic luxury liners, took on a mythic stature in death. He was a celebrated, well-paid ship's master in command of one last triumphant voyage on the eve of retirement from the sea. To this day, the port of Southampton remains divided over whether the beloved figurehead had been drinking at the Sunday, April 14 dinner party that George and Eleanor Widener hosted in his honor. Did he show a curious lack of initiative during the early stages of the evacuation because he was drunk, or simply in shock over what had happened? Generally, history has been kind to Captain Smith in this matter. Many people had heroic final memories of him. Since most witnesses last saw him entering the partly flooded Wheel House, it was a common assumption that he was taking his rightful place at the Bridge to die with his ship. However, there are those who claim to have seen him after that. Junior Wireless Operator Harold Bride said he saw Smith dive from the Boat Deck as Titanic dipped forward and a wave washed aft. Entree Cook J. Maynard was convinced that the Captain swam to the overturned Collapsible B, but was unable to hold onto it long enough for others to pull him aboard. Stoker Harry Senior was widely quoted in the newspapers as having seen Captain Smith swim up to Collapsible B with a baby in his arms and hand it aboard before disappearing. Perhaps the strangest story came from Captain Peter Pryall, who claimed to have met Edward J. Smith on a Baltimore street in July of 1912. Smith seemed distracted, ill at ease, and did not stop to talk with Pryall, who was generally considered a reliable witness by his peers.

Text Link: "The Myth of the Boilers"

As Titanic sank, many survivors reported hearing a series of loud and frightening noises. It was commonly assumed that her boilers were exploding, especially those at the forward end, as the icy water rose around them. However, the stokers had begun to extinguish the boiler fires within moments of the sea bursting through the hull. There were probably a few smaller steam explosions as the ship filled with water, but all the steam intended for Titanic's engines had been vented through her funnels within less than an hour of the collision.

Another common myth was that Titanic's boilers and engines broke loose from their beds and rolled forward through the ship as her stern rose out of the water. All of this equipment, enormous as it may have been, was too firmly attached to come loose any angle. Even if boilers and engines had fallen, they took up too much space and would have met too many obstacles to travel any significant distance.

The noises in Titanic's final moments had nothing to do with the boilers. What people heard was the sliding of furniture and cargo combined with the sounds of the ship herself breaking in half.

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