Sunday, April 15, 2012

Titanic lore

Today is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. In the wake of the tragedy, more than 100 songs were composed, and the avalanche of poems was so large that the Times sternly declared: "to write about the Titanic a poem worth printing requires that the author should have something more than paper, pencil, and a strong feeling that the disaster was a terrible one." The classic book on the subject (and they too are legion) is 1955's A Night to Remember by Walter Lord, which was the basis for a subsequent Hollywood film.

The first film treatment, however, featured Dorothy Gibson, an actress who had been traveling first class on the ship and who survived to play herself on screen.
Denver native Margaret ("Molly") Brown survived as well, to be played by Tammy Grimes in a musical, Debbie Reynolds in a film, and Kathy Bates in the James Cameron blockbuster (the biggest grossing and most expensive film of all time, when Titanic came out it was seen again within two weeks by half of the female viewers under 25).
The Titanic sank two hours and forty minutes after hitting the iceberg, and it took an hour and a half after that before a rescue ship arrived to pull the pitifully few survivors out of the lifeboats and the 28-degree water.
Part of why history has found this disaster so enduringly fascinating are the "what ifs" ... the many ways the tragedy could have been avoided. Another is its glimpse into human nature, both noble and ignoble. I'll end with the latter, in the person of Mrs Isidore Strauss, who chose to stay with her husband and face certain death rather than take her place in the lifeboats without him.
Below: the most famous song about the disaster,  "Wreck of the Titanic."

1 comment:

  1. The story of the Titanic is so tragic whenever you hear about it. I look at the most recent cruise accidents that occured and even though they weren't as bad as the Titanic sinking it equally still makes me scared to take a cruise.