A century after it sank, the famous ship’s legacy lives on
Roughly 100 years ago, a British passenger liner slipped into the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Just four days after embarking on its maiden voyage, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg late on the night of April 14, 1912, causing major damage to its hull. Over the next two and a half hours, water flooded into the ship as panicking passengers and crew members raced for the lifeboats.
By the time the Titanic settled on the ocean flour, about 1,500 people had lost their lives.
Today, the sinking of the Titanic — immortalized in James Cameron’s Academy Award-winning epic “Titanic” – is recognized as one of the worst maritime disasters of all time. In fact, when the the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia sank off the coast of Tuscany in January, the Titanic was foremost in passengers’ minds.
In honor of the Titanic and its cinematic legacy, here are five movies that deal with maritime disasters.
After their ship is attacked by a German U-boat, several British and American passengers (Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix and more) find themselves stranded in a lifeboat in the North Atlantic. Short on food, water and other supplies, the survivors must learn how to work together while they decide the fate of a German sailor (Walter Slezak). (1957′s “Abandon Ship” starring Tyrone Power, deals with a similar situation.)
“A Night to Remember” (1958)
Based on Walter Lord’s best-selling book, this docudrama is a relatively straightforward retelling of the sinking of the Titanic. Although it’s not quite as flashy as “Titanic,” history buffs will appreciate the filmmakers’ painstaking attention to detail. The British cast includes Kenneth More, Ronald Allen and future James Bond stars Sean Connery and Honor Blackman.
“The Poseidon Adventure” (1972)
On her final voyage from New York City to Athens, the aging luxury liner SS Poseidon is capsized by a tsunami on New Year’s Eve, trapping passengers and crew members inside. A police detective (Ernest Borgnine) and a renegade preacher (Gene Hackman) try to lead the survivors (including Shelley Winters, Red Buttons and Roddy McDowall) to safety. The winner of two Oscars, “Poseidon” spawned a sequel, 1979′s “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure,” and two remakes.
The first time I first saw James Cameron’s historical epic, I was a bit underwhelmed. Nearly every aspect — from the romance between star-crossed lovers Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet), to Celine Dion’s keening theme song, “My Heart Will Go On” — seemed overwrought and annoying. At the same time, however, I was blown away by the groundbreaking special effects, huge set pieces and sweeping score. I didn’t want to like “Titanic,” but I did.
“Ghosts of the Abyss” (2003)
“Titanic” director and deep-sea diving enthusiast James Cameron first plumbed the depths of the ocean in the science-fiction thriller “The Abyss.” In this 3D documentary, he and actor Bill Paxton explore the Titanic’s final resting place with the help of state-of-the-art technology and a crack team of historians and marine specialists. (Cameron turned his lens on deep-sea creatures in the 2005 documentary “Aliens of the Deep.”)
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