Another classic film that I’d never seen before. I decided to get this one from the library, since my son and I have become very interested in the history of the “Titanic.” I really enjoyed this film, especially after having read a few books about the subject, including some survivor testimony – it was great to be able to identify several of the characters from things I’ve read (particularly the Strauss couple, Colonel Archibald Gracie, Miss Evans, and the baker who survived so long in the water because he was extremely drunk).
As with any retelling of this story, parts of it were difficult to watch – so tragic! It was interesting to see the “spin” that the creators of the film (presumably following Walter Lord, who wrote the book) took with some of the historical figures. The blame was shifted away from both Captain Smith and Murdoch, I thought, and Lightoller was given a somewhat bigger role than he had in reality (understandable for a couple of reasons; firstly, he was the highest ranking officer to survive, so his own testimony is one of the things upon this film was based; also, since he was turned into the “star” of the film, it was natural to make him a bit of a composite; the director admits to having attributed to Lightoller some actions which were really done by other crew members. Not a big deal to me, though). It was also interesting to see the treatment of the crew of the “Californian,” who were pretty much made out to be incompetant, negligent idiots. To me, that’s the single most intriguing mystery in the whole Titanic saga – just what WAS going on with the “Californian?” I would love to find out that there is some reasonble explanation, but so far, I can’t seem to come up with one in my mind. Certainly “Hey, look – that ship is sending up flares. I wonder why? Probably just nothing,” isn’t a particularly satisfactory scenario.
For the time this film was made (1950s), I thought the effects were well done, and in some ways I thought this film had more authenticity than Cameron’s 1997 epic. Certainly, “A Night to Remember” was less contrivedly dramatic – no fictional love story, and no booming musical score manipulating our emotions. This was a quieter, slower-paced film, and very effective; also interesting to see parts of the saga which weren’t included in “Titanic” (the issue of the “Californian,” for example).
I’m glad we watched this; I’m interested to read Lord’s book now, as well. 9/10