Titanic Facts: How Historically Accurate was the Movie?

Titanic Facts: How Historically Accurate was the Movie?

It’s well known that Director James Cameron was more concerned with pleasing his audience than being 100% historically accurate with his portrayal of some of the Titanic movies’ most well-known characters and plot lines. So, we thought we’d delve into some Titanic facts and fictions – and separate the truth from the hearsay.

Movie characters and actual RMS Titanic passengers

Rose Calvert

The lead characters Jack and Rose in the film are completely fictional characters and are not technically based on any two people who were aboard RMS Titanic when the ship sank. When James Cameron envisioned Rose Calvert, however – he had, in fact, envisioned one of RMS Titanic’s passengers Beatrice Wood. Said to be combative, fearless and dominated by her mother; Beatrice was remembered as having a creative temperament and aristocratic parents. She ultimately was the ‘real’ Rose from Titanic. Once aware of Beatrice Wood,  it is said that Cameron admired, studied and ultimately based many characteristics of Rose Calvert on her.

Titanic Rose
Source: Facebook.com/Beatrice Wood

Ida & Isidor Straus

Ida Straus and her husband Isidor were also first-class passengers on board the RMS Titanic. Ida refused to board a lifeboat, stating that she simply could not leave her husband and other women and children who she felt should have boarded before she did. She is famous for telling her husband,

“We have lived together for many years. Wherever you go, I go”

After refusing to board, Ida and her husband died hand-in-hand after sitting on deck chairs side by side on the deck of the RMS Titanic. Her husband’s body was discovered however her own body was not. Although the movie has suffered criticism for being historically inaccurate at times, this portrayal of Ida and her husband is actually correct.

Photographs of Titanic’s musicians. (Source: WikiCommons)

The Titanic’s Band

Do you remember the scene where the famous RMS Titanic band continued to play even while the ship was sinking? Well, it actually happened. Bandmaster and violinist, Wallace Henry Hartley, believed it was for the best that the band continued to play in a noble effort to keep the passengers as calm as possible. Survivors of the ship recall the band playing one last song as the ship went down, “Nearer my God to thee”. The band had 8 members in total, and none of the band survived after going down with the ship. Including the members of the band, more than 1500 people died out of the 2,240 passengers and crew onboard.

Other accuracies

Upon Officer Lowe’s return to rescue any remaining survivors, a scene in the movie shows a woman and her baby frozen to death by the ice-cold water. Sadly, this was also true. As Officer Lowe returned with a lifeboat to rescue any missing passengers from the wreckage, he discovered the couple frozen to death – with the baby cradled in her mother’s arms.

Molly Brown, played in the movie by Kathy Bates, who returns to look for any remaining survivors, was a real woman who was aboard the RMS Titanic.

Brown giving Captain Arthur Henry Rostron an award for his service in the rescue of survivors of the Titanic. (Source: WikiCommons)

Margaret was an American socialite and philanthropist. She is best remembered for encouraging the crew in Lifeboat No. 6 to return to the debris field of the 1912 sinking of RMS Titanic to look for survivors. Margaret Brown survived the disaster and as a result, became known posthumously as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”.

fact, or just for effect?

One of the ending scenes of the movie shows the ship breaking into two parts, which is also historically accurate. However, despite the dramatic effect achieved in the movie when the lights cut out as the ship tips into its final vertical position, RMS Titanic’s lights actually continued to burn until the whole ship was submerged under water.

(Source: Giphy)

As shown in the movie, pieces of the iceberg that caused the demise of the RMS Titanic actually came onto the promenade deck of the ship. Survivors have confirmed recollections of the iceberg’s pieces being thrown onto the ship. Here lies another historical accuracy in Titanic the movie.

All the scenes from Cameron’s film show the RMS Titanic ship leaving port, journeying en route and then sinking within the movie’s running time of approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes. This is exactly how long the real RMS Titanic took to sink after being struck by the iceberg. This coincidence has caused plenty of controversy and conspiracy in the years after the film was released. Whether this was an artistic homage to the true disaster or pure coincidence is unclear.

RMS Carpathia

As depicted in the film, RMS Carpathia did, in fact, rescue the remaining survivors from the sunken RMS Titanic. RMS Carpathia arrived two hours after the ship had sunk, and was able to rescue 705 survivors from the lifeboats.

Carpathia rescue - Titanic facts
(Source: WikiCommons)

The Ghost Ships of Titanic

There is a rumour that another two ships were close to the RMS Titanic when the first distress flares were fired. Surviving passengers reported seeing the lights of other vessels in the distance and even though these astonishing facts were unearthed immediately following the sinking of the RMS Titanic, Cameron chose to exclude them from his movie.

The first vessel reported was the SS Californian who had stopped in an ice field close to where the RMS Titanic was struck. Even though there were numerous warning signs to say the RMS Titanic was in distress, the captain of SS Californian never took action to reach the boat.

SS Californian - Titanic facts
(Source: WikiCommons)

It is thought that the SS Californian was a mere 5 miles away and could have assisted the RMS Titanic greatly; a fact that Cameron chose to leave out of his movie depicting the great tragedy.

The other vessel, the Samson, which is often referred to as the Titanic ghost ship was said to be even closer than the SS Californian. Tales from members of the crew was that there were sights of flares and many lights in the distance. The supposed reason the Samson did not rush to the aid of RMS Titanic was that it was conducting illegal seal hunting in territorial waters. If found, the crew would be prosecuted so instead of responding the Samson crew chose to evade detection by slipping away from the sight of the RMS Titanic into icy waters and heavy fog.

Stay in the story

For fans of the movie Titanic and for those with an interest in the history and mystery behind the true story, 30 James Street Hotel is a real adventure where guests can immerse themselves in the lore that surrounds RMS Titanic.

Our luxury Liverpool hotel rooms have been outfitted to replicate the first class accommodation and the stunning décor of the original ship that can be seen replicated in the film.  Our Titanic-themed hotel gives guests a one-of-a-kind hotel experience and a chance to explore an integral part of the RMS Titanic story. Our friendly staff ensure that guests feel like first-class passengers with high-quality facilities in our striking rooms.

30 James St Titanic Themed Hotel

Call and book your stay at 30 James Street today on 0151 236 0166 or email info@signatureliving.co.uk. Come and explore the facts and fiction surrounding the Titanic movie and learn all about the real history of the Titanic from within the very building that commissioned the vessel to sail!

Make your reservation to stay at 30 James Street – Home of the Titanic today. 

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