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The Legacy of Titanic

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Saturday 14th April is the 100th anniversary the Titanic disaster.  The tragic fate of the 'unsinkable' ship sent shockwaves through the world in 1912 - now, the name Titanic has become legenTitanic by James Camerondary.

In our modern day society this is perhaps partly down to the influence of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslets' performances as young lovers defying class boundaries in James Cameron’s romantic blockbuster. Titanic fever has hit viewers hard as the classic Hollywood movie is back on cinema screens in 3D. Time to relive that fateful moment and scream at the screen and Rose, “But there’s enough space for Jack on the float!”  

Combined with this, Julian Fellowes has attempted to follow his hugely successful Downtown Abbey series with a Titanic-related programme for ITV. This programme, named (you guessed it) Titanic follows a number of passengers from different social spheres as they embark on their trip and the boat begins to sink. 

Every episode so far has focused on particular plot arcs and a different class, starting with first class and the Earl of Manton’s family. The character’s storylines overlap giving the programme a new perspective layer at every turn.  Secrets are revealed and events are seen from different points of view. I have found the series watchable and the realisation of the true events of the Titanic makes this a poignant programme. I can’t speak for the finale as it has not yet aired, but the first three episodes have been entertaining to watch though not as powerful as James Cameron’s original 1997 film. 

However, I’m left feeling slightly uncomfortable at the way the centenary of the Titanic is being marked. The tragedy of 100 years ago is being played out on screen for the entertainment of a modern audience. Some may argue it is to make sure that the tragedy is ‘never forgotten’ but I have been wondering (perhaps cynically) how far monetary considerations motivate the film and television industries. There are memorials that are truly remembering the Titanic, but I’m not sure that watching ITV’s Titanic has been quite the memorial it was meant to be.  I saw one particular headline of a review of Titanic on ITV, calling it ‘Drownton Abbey’. A clever headline perhaps, but not in good taste when the real people who died and the grief of their families and friends is considered.

Is this really remembering and grieving the deaths of over a thousand people in what was arguably an avoidable catastrophe? Ratings for the show have dropped by millions and reviewers have not been kind to Titanic

I will finish watching Julian Fellowes’ Titanic and I think it is a good programme.  However, I hope I won’t forget the sad reality of the events of 1912 and forget  theTitanic in the media circus.




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