The Titanic on Film

Myth versus Truth

$45.00

In stock

About the Book

The narrative surrounding the Titanic’s voyage, collision, and sinking in April 1912 seems tailor-made for film. With clear categories of gender, class, nationality, and religion, the dominating Titanic myth offers a wealth of motifs ripe for the silver screen-heroism, melodrama, love, despair, pleasure, pain, failure, triumph, memory and eternal guilt. This volume provides a detailed overview of Titanic films from 1912 to the present and analyzes the six major Titanic films, including the 1943 Nazi propaganda production, the 1953 Hollywood film, the 1958 British docudrama A Night to Remember, the 1979 TV production S.O.S. Titanic, the 1996 mini-series Titanic, and James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster. By showing how each film follows and builds on a pattern of fixed scenes, motifs and details defined as the “Titanic code,” this work yields telling insights into why this specific disaster has maintained such great relevance into the 21st century.

About the Author(s)

Linda Maria Koldau is a professor of musicology at Aarhus University in Denmark and an affiliated researcher at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. She is the author of several books on cultural history, including works on the submarine myth and the myth of the Titanic.

Bibliographic Details

Linda Maria Koldau
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 307
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6311-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9037-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Introduction: The Archetype of Maritime Disaster      9

Part I. History, Myth and Film

1. The Historical Event      21

2. The Titanic Myth      29

The Parameters and Their Codification in Film      29

The Historical Development      38

3. Titanic in Film      46

Titanic in Film from 1912 to the Present Time      48

EARLY FILMS AND NEWSREELS, 1912–13      49

THE 1929 ATLANTIC AND SELZNICK’S FOUNDERED TITANIC PROJECT      55

THE SIX MAJOR TITANIC PRODUCTIONS      59

TITANIC EPISODES AND FANTASIES      66

The Dying Queen: Documentaries of the Wreck      70

The Perfect Script      77

THE BASIC INGREDIENTS      77

MAKING IT ORIGINAL: SUBPLOTS AND STRUCTURAL MODELS      81

FRAMING DEVICES      85

Part II. Major Titanic Films

4. The Nazi Titanic (1943): Unfit for Propaganda      95

Greed as Main Theme: The Plot and the Protagonists      97

Propaganda Failed      105

Epilogue      110

5. Titanic (1953): Myth Turned into Melodrama      111

First Class with a Gender Conflict      113

Religion and Redemption      117

The Subplots and Their Relation to the Main Plot      119

6. A Night to Remember (1958): The “Real Story”      129

The Main Plot: The Ship as Star      129

Social Microcosm: Class as Main Theme      134

The Ideal of British Middle-Class Virtue      136

Gender and Religion      141

The “Titanic Code”: Authenticity and Nostalgia      143

7. S.O.S. Titanic (1979): Great in Detail, Weak in Plot      148

The Frame Structure and Its Significance for Characterization      148

Strictly Historical: The Representation of the Various Social Spheres      153

Problems of Plot—Nevertheless an Impressive Film      160

8. Titanic (1996): Poor Plots with an Impressive Disaster      167

Structure and Plots      169

Striving for Authenticity: Historical Motifs      174

The Climax      177

9. James Cameron’s Titanic (1997)      182

The Main Categories of the Titanic Myth and Their Treatment in Cameron’s Titanic      184

Postmodernist Features in Cameron’s Titanic      195

The Recipe for Success      206

10. The Titanic Code: Recurrent Motifs in Titanic Films      223

Recurrent Motifs: History, Myth, and Fiction      224

Music to Drown By: Music in the Titanic Myth      234

THE FINAL SONG      236

MUSIC AND CLASS      241

THE FILM MUSIC      244

THE SOUNDS OF DEATH      256

Conclusion: Making Titanic Immortal      259

Chapter Notes      265

Bibliography      287

Index      293

Book Reviews & Awards

“Explores how the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 has been turned into a myth through various film versions”—Reference & Research Book News.