After watching The Perverts Guide to Ideology (2012) in which Slavoj Zizek touched on the more recent version (1997) of the sinking of The Titanic in 1912, centring around a couple both from different classes, which Zizek theorised was about a upper-class woman Kate Winslet making use of a third class passenger Leonardo DiCaprio in order to feel alive once more. That’s just a theory so you can take it or leave it. For me I enjoy finding the deeper meaning in films, going onto to watch straight after the earlier Titanic 1953 take on the disaster that saw so many lives lost in the Atlantic ocean.
There was indeed a romance onboard between two people from different classes. However the idea if class was dealt with more head-on for a time when a mother Julia Sturges (Barbara Stanwyck) leaves with her children to start a new life in America, away from all the pomp and etiquette of the upper-class that has begun to transform her children into something she would hate to see. It appears to late for daughter Annette (Audrey Dalton) who looks down at an eager Gifford Rogers (Robert Wagner) who wants to court the young lady. Trapped in her upper class ways of life. Whilst her mother and father Richard Ward Sturges (Clifton Webb) fight during the voyage.
The far shorter film also looks at the lives of others onboard the doomed ocean-liner, such as drunken reverend Richard Basehart who is returning home. Whilst we catch very little of Thelma Ritter‘s character, a down to earth wealthy woman who loves a good game of cards. Also in the background is the action of the captain (Brian Aherne) and crew as they set-out full of hope on the ships maiden voyage. All the while I am waiting for the inevitable to occur, as I do with all films based on major events, wondering how they will be played out. Receiving word of an iceberg that has been spotted by other passing ships.
You could blame the sinking on a number of factors; the lack of binoculars amongst the men to watch out for obstacles such as icebergs, to the speed of communication between ships and receiving the messages. To the captain believing that the ship was indestructible, a mind-set of the complacency and pride to ignore any possible dangers, even with a new system that would shut off areas of the ship that became flooded. This way of thinking would washed away (pardon the pun) after WWI.
Overall it’s a good film that delivers what it sets out to do, depict the sinking of the Titanic, but along the way the Sturges family who are the centre of it all change in places, the father’s attitude to his family, their past and future. If he had survived he may well have changed his way, a man trapped in his class up until the very end. Family is at the heart of this now dated film that isn’t all about special effects, the ship doesn’t tear in two before sinking, it’s more straight forward than that. The end is shocking as we see the women and children leave in the lifeboats, leaving the brave men to die. Comparing it to James Cameron‘s monster of a film seems futile in places, they are two different beasts, one a run of the mill drama, whilst another is a blockbuster romance set in a disaster. The acting is what saves this film from being forgotten, what makes it worth a look at least.
- Titanic – 1953 (anotheroldmovieblog.blogspot.co.uk)
- Titanic (1953) (charitysplace.wordpress.com)
- Compare and contrast Titanic (1997) and Titanic (1953) (laurajan3.blogspot.co.uk)