The Goofs of The 1996 Miniseries

Widely reported as having been rushed into production to capitalise on the publicity of James Cameron's effort (even though that was released a year later due to interminable delays), this production is, to be blunt, lamentable. The most reviled part is Tim Curry's character raping the lead steerage lady in the showers (needless to say, there weren't any in 3rd class); without this, the drama could be classed as simply "poor." With its inclusion, we now sink to subterranean levels. As fine an actor as Curry arguably is, his acting and visual appearance simply destroy any possible attempt at subtlety in his performance. You know he's going to be the sinister miscreant. We also have the ship populated by the same collection of caricatures, hybrids and cyphers none of whom elicit any form of sympathy by the viewer including, sad to say, the rape victim. Throw in some awful special effects, some flimsy sets and we truly have a recipe for disaster, as the cliche says. We are left with an unpalatable mix of fictional people (Mrs Paradine, the Foleys, Wynn Park, Simon Doonan, Jamie Perse etc.) and semi-factual characters (the officers, the Allison, Alice Cleaver, the Astors, "Molly" Brown etc.) none of who are sympathetic. Incidentally, a piece of trivia for you: Marilu Henner ("Molly") was married at the time to the, director Robert Lieberman. Hows that for nepotism?

Wisely ignored by many Titanic enthusiasts, this dramatisation was obviously the inspiration for later depictions of the disaster; Julian Fellowe's dreadful mess includes the 1st class dancing and other plot points, so we at least know from where he derived some of his "research." And yet the 1996 mini-series seemed to be offer a great deal. It was obviously written by someone who had a faint knowledge of the Titanic disaster (for instance, the use of Etches who was indeed a real person, the inclusion of the Rappahannock and the Californian, and such throw away, and yet 100% accurate lines such as one character describing a frozen stoker in a lifeboat as shivering like "an aspen") - but the gross mistakes makes one think that the teleplay was hurriedly rewritten by someone else, or that the original writer was so slipshod as to get universally accepted facts wrong - the most glaring one being the Titanic sinking 20 minutes later than she really did. And we also have the regurgitation of old fables and myths. Still, at least this series seems to have inconsequentially passed people by, its damaging repetion of fables and myths ignored - unlike the more expensive Cameron bedfellow whose monument to historical inaccuracy has caused much greater damage to the story of the Titanic.

Sitting through this farrago of distortion was a chore. The first time this author seethed at the mistakes; the second time to compile this list simply rekindled these emotions. I recall when I first watched the drama I was astounded when Smith was aghast that white rockets rather than red were being used; I was dismayed at how lacklustre Murdoch's suicide was - not to mention the pathetic reaction of his comrades; and finally, the last caption remarking on the salvage attempts on the wreck (see later) so incensed me with its shoddy research that I purposefully avoided this whole execrable horror show for some 16 years.

Click on the thumbnails for larger versions of the images.




Right from the beginning, the first scenes raise problems. Alice Cleaver is supposedly hired the day before the Titanic was due to sail, but she says in her letter to Walter Lord that she was employed about two weeks previously. Little Loraine Allison seems to be remarkably well spoken for a child of only 2. Then the backstory of Cleaver raises issues. In 1992, Don Lynch claimed that she was arrested for the murder of her own child by throwing the baby from a train, but she was eventually freed after pleas for leniency. This history was copied by the writers of the miniseries. The shame is, its a fallacy. Lynch had confused Alice Cleaver with a lady of a similar name. An indignant relative of Cleaver wrote a book soon afterwards to rebut the false claims.




The Titanic is moored wrongly; she should have the dock on her port side, not her starboard side.




The forward boat deck has some curious anomalies; this is apparently the forward port side (the side built for the drama) and shows a staircase behind Captain Smith where none existed in real life. Having said that, it remains a very crude approximation of the real boat deck, even though it does seem to have a collapsible boat on top of the Grand Staircase foyer! Smith's mention of "meeting the reporters" is a fiction of course. On the 9th April, only two press photographers (from "Illustrations Bureau" and "Central News") visited the ship and access to the interiors were limited. Another visit occurred the following day. Captain Smith did meet the press on the boat deck and bridge that day but fielded only a very few questions.




The Grand Staircase is another reasonable approximation to the real thing; of course it lacks a few necessary details (there was a glass dome not a chandelier) and incorporates spurious details (the wall sconces on either side of the mezzanine). Also, Ismay never met the press. He says that the rival steamer Lusitania did not have a library, whereas she did. There is also some debate as to whether Captain Smith was indeed intending to retire after this voyage; as can be seen from the debates on (eg) Encyclopedia Titanica, some researchers speculate that Smith's retirement from the Royal Navy Reserve may have been misinterpreted. There is evidence both pro and con for the "retirement" story.
It is very odd that the press did not mention the Olympic's collision with HMS Hawke the previous September. All Smith says is that he never had any major collision during his time, just "winter squalls, storms and fogs."




The real dining saloon was on "D" deck but here it seems to be on "A" deck. The dining saloon, again, seems to be a reasonable approximation, although it has a few inaccuracies (the "carpet," lamps on tables and so on).




The font of the ship is wrong as is its placement with respect to the portholes. The following scene shows a "checking in deck" and modern crash barriers, both of which are anachronisms.




The style of corridor is wrong; the Titanic's was much more plainer, lacking carpets, railings and wall lamps.




Mrs Paradine is told that the ship is booked solid and can't be transferred to another stateroom. In fact, the ship was anything but packed in all three classes.




The steam pipes on the funnel are incorrect (at least!); in the next scene, we see a sea of umbrellas. Given that the day was overcast it's clear there were no need for such parasols!




Margaret Brown never went by the name "Molly" and at any rate she boarded the ship in Cherbourg, as did Benjamin Guggenheim's party. At the end of the scene, the pompous bint Hazel Foley moves off to see "the Wideners." George and his son Harry Widener boarded at Southampton and were reunited with Eleanor and their servants at Cherbourg later on that day.




Captain Smith's utterance of "Take her out, Robert" is peculiar. Is he talking about Quartermaster Robert Hichens? If so Smith seems to be regarding him in a very casual, almost friendly manner. And Ismay claimed that he was never on the bridge till after the collision.




The rivet counters can tell me if they layout of ports, plates and rivets are correct. I don't hold out much hope. The passengers waving out of the ports in the white area is "C" deck which was entirely passenger cabins, not promenades.





The set used for the boat deck was heavily truncated; this is the aft end which on the real ship is second class space; in this drama, it is now first class space as you can see when the Astors and their maid are on deck. A peculiarity: a set of stairs that goes down to "A" deck. And then, as we pan aft even further, we get to the well deck, which is only a short staircase below "A" deck. On the real Titanic, it was many decks below. And the set lacks the hatches used to provision the ship in port.




And just to provide some measure of continuity with previous Titanic adventures, we have the dreaded Bostwick gate, in this case used to separate 3rd class (aft well deck) space from the 1st class. There certainly was no such gate in this area, even if we accept the crude reproductions of the real deck here; there should have been waist high gates.




Bruce Ismay accompanies "Molly" to dinner on the 1st night out. In actual fact, she said soon after the disaster that "On boarding the vessel [at Cherbourg], the greater number of passengers immediately sought their staterooms. The bugle for dinner sounded a half-hour later but it was unsuccessful in calling forth many to its magnificent dining room. The electric heater and warm covering were found too comfortable to be deserted even for the many course dinner, even at the craving on the inner man."
So "Molly" did not go to dinner that night; she may have had something in her stateroom instead.





The band played in the reception room from 8-9.15pm in the reception room, which adjoined the dining room. Dinner was at 7pm, but may be served at any time up to 8.15pm by giving notice to the head steward in advance. So, the band did not play in the dining saloon; the timings would have been wrong, and there was no piano player in the repertoire either. The large central area was not reserved for dancing either; it was a space occupied by diners and in one of the screengrabs, it seems to be floored with parquet blocks. And Ismay's testimony, if it is to be believed, indicates that he favoured a two-seat table off to one side of the saloon, and not a flamboyantly large one. Someone with more patience that I can go through the menu extracts to determine if they are accurate or not. Captain Smith also states that he been with the White Star line for 25 years. In fact, he joined them in 1880, and got his first command 7 years later.




Budget necessities obviously decreed that the 3rd class room housing their communal piano was nothing like the one on the real Titanic.




In this bizarre shot, the crew are seen taking clothes up in an elevator. First, there wasn't a laundry in third class, and secondly there was no elevator either.




Murdoch talks to Boxhall about seeing a freighter, the Rappahannock, which warns of ice ahead. This warning was almost certainly relayed to the Titanic mid ocean on April 13th, and not the 10th as we can see here. The dialogue afterwards is curt; where are the binoculars asks Murdoch. Boxhall replies that only one pair was provided to the bridge, and Murdoch orders him to take the pair from the crow's nest.
In actual fact, the senior bridge officers (at least) had their own binoculars. The ones alloted to the crow's nest were used from Belfast to Southampton and the (then) 2nd Officer David Blair told the lookouts to lock them in his cabin (they belonged to him) whilst provisioning. When the Titanic left Southampton, there were no binoculars ("glasses" in 1912 parlance) for the lookouts and none were later provided even though the look-outs asked for them specifically. It makes no difference; most modern researchers dispute the efficacy of using binoculars to sight objects. They are used to identify objects, and cut down on the field of vision too much. Certainly, by the time of the collision, any attempt to get binoculars had been abandoned. Incidentally, Boxhall says before the collision that the ship is running at 22 1/2 knots; although this is correct, he was really of the opinion that the ship was running at 22 knots as he used this number when calculating the distress location.




The 1st class smoking room was the province of men. So what is "Molly" doing on board? And why does Astor have an English accent? And why is there a bar in the room? Drinks were served by stewards.




Tim Curry's character is obviously a 3rd class steward as he is earlier seen directing steerage to their cabins. So why is he know a 1st class steward, and given the run of the ship? Steward's assignements were inflexible.




"All passengers disembarking in Ireland must proceed to the boat deck." Why not simply go down to E deck, where the hatches close to the water line, would provide much easier (dis)embarkation to passengers?




An interesting scene, set in the wireless officer. The first thing that struck me was the braids on the Marconi Officer's sleeves. A photo of Jack Phillips and another Marconi officer man show no such braids (having said that, a close up photo of Phillips does show some form of braiding).
The wireless cabin was on the boat deck, away from passenger areas. It did not have an inquiry window. Perhaps due to budget constraints, the producers decided to merge the wireless room and the Purser's area into one combined set? Passengers gave the Purser their wireless messages and payment, and these were relayed to the wireless room by pneumatic tubes.




Mrs Paradine is told that the Countess of Rothes "must" take her stateroom, as her "servants" have packed her belongings. The Countess of Rothes only travelled with one servant and as we have already noted above, there were plenty of other rooms the Rothes party could have relocated to.




In this scene, we see a steward deliver a routine message to the Captain who is at lunch. The date for this is not given but it is obviously between April 11th and the 14th. Then we see the Captain deliver this message to Ismay outside the dining room; it is an ice warning from the steamship Baltic. Ismay testified that he was given the message by Smith on the 14th before lunch while he was on the promenade and that the Captain never said a word to him. But in the dramatisation, Ismay tells Smith that they are to beat the Olympic's "record" and get into New York on Tuesday. Ismay basically pressurises Smith who tells him that he must clear ships operations with him first. This is a very distorted version of a conversation overheard by 1st class passenger Elizabeth Lines on the 13th. But in that case, Ismay excitedly reels off details of how well the ship is doing and then says "We will beat the Olympic and get into New York on Tuesday night." During this whole exchange, Smith never said a word.




In this fascinating screenshot, Captain Smith himself is at the wheel! Of course, a Quartermatser would be there. Also, there is an officer directly behind him hunched over a navigation chart; this would be in a separate chart room. It is debateable as to whether guests would be allowed on the bridge; but this is captain's prerogative. We are also told that there is a "rumour" that the ship would be getting in early. This rumour was actually more substantial than that, and researcher George Behe has collated some of these accounts. Indeed, 2nd class passenger Lawrence Beesley wrote that they expected to arrive on Tuesday evening. Beesley heard this on Saturday, April 13th.




The sun is seen rising on the Titanic's starboard quarter, or right rear. This would put sunrise as being somewhere about north! And sunrise was earlier than 7am.





Lightoller was never in the engine/boiler rooms, at least at this point in the crossing. The next scene is unbelievable; although it it is true that 24 boilers had been lit at that point, a couple having been lit for the first time that day at about 8am on Sunday morning, it is unlikely that Ismay would physically go down into the engine room and demand two more additional boilers lit and that the speed be increased to 22 1/2 knots by noon. In later scenes in the boiler rooms, we see other anachronisms: the stokers should be wearing looser clothing, and the design of the doors on the furnaces are wrong (basically, the doors are timed to open to allow coal to be shovelled in, but also kept closed for as long as possible to encapsulate the heat.)




The Titanic receives an ice report from the Mesaba at 4.40pm and Bride offers to run it off to the bridge but Phillips says he wanted to clear the backlog first. Firstly, the Mesaba's report was received much later on in the day, and secondly, ice warnings should have received priority over all other commercial traffic. In reality, the Mesaba's message cannot be accounted for as Phillips (who took the message) did not survive and none of the surviving bridge officers recalled having seen it.





The stern of the model does not match the live action sets. The model is slightly more accurate




The Caronia's ice warning was received in the morning. Another fictitious conversation: Lightoller reveals that Ismay was intent on breaking records after the captain noted that the ship seemed to be travelling fast. Of course, Smith could look in the log to see what the speed was; then he would know for sure.




As far as I know the Rappahannock never provided the co-ordinates of her encounter of the ice with the Titanic. The quality of writing in the screen capture is too low to determine if the text is accurate or not; but it should be noted that the Baltic's ice report should be to the north and east of the Amerika's - which indeed it is.




Tha Californian's mastlights were actually on the first two masts; her funnel should have been plain salmon pink with a black top; no black bands. And at 9.50pm, it would have been pitch black on the sea.




The Californian bridge crew were actually on an open bridge, and not enclosed in this wheelhouse. There was no chart; and the order to stop the ship for the night was at 10.20pm, the order being rung down by telegraph and not be speaking tube. Incidentally, steam in the boilers was kept up all night.





In this shot, there is no sign of the loose ice that surrounded the Californian. While it is true that Groves, the 3rd Officer did see another ship approaching them from the south east at 11.10 or 11.15pm. Shortly afterwards, Groves went down to the captain's cabin to report his sighting, in accordance with the master's orders. Captain Lord claimed to have seen them for himself "close upon 11 o'clock." The orientation of the Titanic as seen from the Californian is interesting too. The Californian was heading north east after she had stopped, and the Titanic was coming up from the south east, so she should have been seen on the starboard (right hand) side, but in the drama she is seen directly ahead. And the officer - Groves - agreeing with Lord that the ship they were watching was a small fishing boat or a freighter is a fantasy too. Groves was sure that what he was seeing was a large passenger steamer, and he later opined that it was the Titanic. Indeed, he disagreed with the Captain's assessment of the other ship being a smaller ship like themselves. Incidentally, Captain Lord himself went down to the wireless cabin and told them to relay their ice warning to the Titanic.




Here we are shown Phillips and Bride still on duty. In truth, Bride was in bed at this time. The line that the Californian "keeps interrupting" is misleading too. Evans, on the Californian only tried once to pass on the ice warning and was brusquely dismissed. He went to bed soon after. In 1957 Groves wrote that he went down to Evans after he was lying in his bunk reading a magazine. Groves put the headphones on but didn't know that the clockwork of the wireless detector had wound down; consequently he heard nothing and by this time Evans had fallen asleep. This was shortly after the Titanic had started sending out distress signals. In the drama, Groves picks up the signal which is obviously wrong and the power runs out just as he received it.




"Molly" did not play with cards with Astor before the collision; she was in her cabin reading. And Astor was with his wife at the time. And Astor's maid's name wasn't "Mrs Miller" - her name was Rosalie Bidois (her private nurse was Caroline Endres).




The budget couldn't stretch to a full contingent of 8 officers obviously; Boxhall answers the telephone from the crow's nest. The man in the cap and uniform to the left is Robert Hichens, the Quartermaster; obviously inaccurately and hopelessly over attired. It also doesn't take much to turn the wheel hardover. And there is only one engine room telegraph!




In this shot, there is no bridge wing, and the large contraption is a morse lamp. The real ones were smaller lamps on top of the bridge wing cabs. Oh, and the iceberg is too small.




The iceberg is shown passing from left to right, but this is actually the aft well deck set! So the iceberg rather than passing from front to back down the starboard (right hand) side, it is now passing back to front down the port (left) side! People's reactions to the collision were not as pronounced as this; while a few said they were thrown from their beds, most reported only a subtle vibration sometimes accompanied by a tearing or scraping sound.




While there was a warning bell in the boiler rooms, there was no siren. And apart from boiler room 6 and a little water in 5, there was no water reported in these rooms soon after the collision. Note that there is no water in the initial shots, then we cut to another view, there is water up to the crewmen's knees, and finally water sprays down from ABOVE down a manhole, causing the boiler room to explode in sparks. All of which never happened.




Only now does Murdoch decide to close the watertight doors as the ship is now almost certainly clear of the iceberg (which again is wrong), and the control was actually placed close to the wheel at the front of the wheelhouse and not in some little recessed alcove.




Again, we are treated to a quirk in topography. We see 1st class passengers coming out of what was really the 2nd class entrance on the boat deck. "Molly" is among them - she was really still below at this time! And it is physically impossible for ice to have reached this area.




Thomas Andrews, the ship's designer, doesn't appear in the miniseries, so Captain Smith takes his place. His lines are interesting. He says that one of the cardinal rules was to never turn your broadside to danger and that if the ship had struck head-on only one compartment would have been breached. While this is true, there is no "cardinal rule" demanding such a maneouvre. He also says that the watertight compartments only go up to E deck; while this is true for the bulkheads amidships, the ones furthest aft and forward went up higher, and it is these compartments that were breached. Smith also says that they have precisely the number of lifeboats required by the British Board of Trade; in truth, the Titanic had four extra collapsible lifeboats on board, exceeding the Board's legal requirements by about 160 people or so.
Incidentally, Ismay was never at this conference and neither was Lightoller. In fact, modern researchers are sceptical that such a meeting ever took place!




"CQD" does NOT stand for "Come Quickly, Distress" - "CQ" is phonetically "seek you" and denotes that all stations should listen, with "D" meaning "distress." So it basically says "Listen to me, I'm in trouble."




Steam was still venting from the funnels while the boats were being uncovered and turned out.




The whole subplot of Alice Cleaver is mired in inaccuracy. In the miniseries, Bess Allison wouldn't leave the cabin without her husband, Cleaver retorts that they're going to drown and grabs baby Trevor, running out with him. Alice Cleaver's version of events, given 43 years later can be found here; Don Lynch in "Titanic - An Illustrated History," Cleaver is depicted as acting impulsively, grabbing the baby, telling Bess that she would not let him out of her arms and walked out, passing Mr.Allison in the hallway who was too dazed to notice the nurse in the hallway, let alone stop her.




We are shown people being allocated boats, but this never happened. People tended to get into whatever boat was nearest. Incidentally, the steward in this scene is supposed to be Henry Etches who never performed this activity anyway. Of interest of the fact is that he directs people to boats 4 and 8 - but notice "Molly" Brown in the crowd. She actually escaped in boat 6!




Captain Lord, Groves and another officer (Stone)? discuss the situation at 12.35am. Lord claimed that he was still on deck when Groves was relieved of his watch duties at 12.10am by Stone. A few minutes later, Lord retired to the chart room, adjacent to his own cabin and never returned to the bridge. Groves story is that Lord left the bridge at 10.35pm and returned briefly later on while Groves was using the morse lamp. He left after three minutes leaving Groves along until Stone came up.




The band are playing on the boat deck outside the "1st Class Elevator." Not only did the real Titanic's 1st class lifts not go to the boat deck but it seems that the only way to enter the Grand Staircase (which had an entrance foyer on that deck) was via the promenade on "A" deck!




In this scene, the Marconi operators discuss the situation, noting that the crew will soon be loading passengers into boats. They implore other ships to come by noting that they were sinking by the head; the SOS had already been sent out.
In reality, the SOS wasn't sent out until after the boats started to be dispatched. The first mention in the ship's wireless logs that they were sinking by the head wasn't until well after, too.




I wonder exactly what they are shoring up with timbers? And water never poured in in such a fashion.




Ismay used his name and position as the head of the White Star Line to expedite proceedings. While it is true that he turned up at a boat excitedly emploring the crew to lower away (and was castigated) he never said who he was.




"What became of the boat assignments, Mr Lowe?" Murdoch asks. Lowe replies they never had any boat assignments. This is not true; the crew were allocated boats and lists had been posted up. On another note, while Murdoch and Lowe were present at the lowering of the boats on the forward starboard side of the Titanic, they never had this conversation.




No dogs were allowed in the boats, we were told. No explicit order was given to this effect (did one need to be?) but even so three dogs did escape. Lowe tells Murdoch that the boats will buckle and that they should be lowered half filled and then filled up from the gangways. This is actually what Lightoller testified to saying that night. Funnily, Lowe seems to exert more authority than Murdoch, who meekly agrees to his subordinate's plan. When Mr.Foley uses subterfuge to enter the boat, we can women in the background saying that it was only supposed to be women and children, and not to let him on board. I cannot recall any woman voicing such opinions that night.
It also goes without saying that the boat and davit designs in this drama are very crude.




Using the oversized morse lamps, the Titanic signals for help. Smith looks out to the starboard side (the Californian was off to port). Meanwhile on the Californian the crew, including Groves (who should have been in bed) give up their morse attempts and go inside. They actually carried on practically all night, without success.




And now the rockets are being sent up to attract the attention of the Californian. We can see that at least three boats have gone, all with lights; but by the time the first rockets went up, no boat with lights had been dispatched. The first ones with lamps (6 and 8) were on the port side and were launched a little while later. It would be quite a while before the 3rd one would go.
More objectional dialogue: Smith says of the rocket: "It's white. They're supposed to be red for distress!" And the officer humbly says that that is all they all have, and that there are only 7 left! The Titanic had much more than 8 rockets (perhaps the producers got confused by the fact that only 8 rockets were FIRED?) and one of the internationally agreed method for signalling distress at night was rockets of any colour or description, fired one at a time, at intervals. So what Smith was seeing was accurate.
And the rockets should be exploding into white stars with a deafening boom, not simply "popping" into a feeble cloud.




Captain Lord here is hunched over the papers asleep when the first telephone call is made after 3 rockets were fired. But this is what really happened: Stone (NOT Groves who was asleep) whistled down the speaking tube at about 1.10am reporting that he has seen five rockets. Lord came from the chart room to his own cabin to answer the tube and Lord asked if there were any colours in the rockets. When told they were white, he ordered the Morse lamp be used. Lord himself said that he had gone to lie down on the settee in the chair room, and that he was only told of a white rocket.




Soon after 12.55am, we see guns being dispensed. This seems early; no one can be sure, but it would be a little later than this; Ismay makes no mention of being present when the guns were handed out in his testimony. The guns were actually handed over in one of the officer's cabins (Murdoch's).
This seems to be the token boat where there is a nod to historical accuracy. Colonel Astor asks to accompany his wife (this was actually boat 4 on deck "A" below the open promenade, and was one of the last to leave); Lightoller tells a young boy that he "can't go" (this was spoken by Steward Dodd, again at boat 4); Ida and Isidor Straus were at this boat too and she gives her maid "Sophia" her fur coat when the elderly couple refuse to be parted (this actually occurred at boat 8, one of the first to go, and the Straus's maid Christian name was Ellen); Ismay says that no one would object if an old man like Mr.Straus went with his wife (this was actually spoken by another crewman; Isidor refused preferential treatment).




This next scene is an obvious reference to Steward Hart's claim that he went below into steerage and brought up two lots of women and children to the boat deck; the first was about 30, the second, 25. But he retrieved them from the corridors of "E" deck, not from one of the general rooms. Also, there seems to be a large number of women in this scene, which is questionable




We can see quite well how small the boat props were, and the ridiculous large chocks. The hero of our story is asked if he can work a davit; there were sufficient crewmen on board to load and lower the boats.
We can also observe another failing of the drama; the pitifully small crowd. Evidently the budget couldn't extend to large numbers of extras. We also see Lightoller ordering Lowe into the boat; in reality, Lightoller had no say in this. I am also surprised that the drama didn't include Lowe's piece de resistance: the use of his gun to quell the crowds threatening to swamp the boat.




Smoke it still being issued from the funnels (wrong), the funnels are brightly lit (wrong) and "A" deck seems to be in partial darkness. Indeed, in the next shot, the lights are flickering on and off. This didn't happen; the lights stayed on until minutes before the end, where they were reduced to glowing red and then being extinguished altogether.




There are spurious vents on the deck of the Titanic.




In this scene, we see a collapsible boat being prepared for lowering. Not only does this shot not correspond to the real layout of the Titanic (there is no bulwark between the boat and the boat deck; and there is no sign of the bridge, which is odd as this boat was all the way forward), but Ismay clambers aboard with a big crowd on deck. Of course, this is controversial; Ismay wanted to convey the impression of a nearly deserted boat deck when he got on boat, but the passengers who survived described a scene of chaos and panic.




...and there are still boats on deck! The boat that Ismay got into ("C") was the penultimate one lowered, and the last one on that side of the ship (which was actually the starboard, not the port side).




We see boat 4 being lowered, boat 2 gone and boat 8 still on the davits. Boat 8 should have departed a long time before the other two. As for the other two boats in the water...one has a lamp on it. Boat 6 and 8 had lamps, but these were quite a distance away, off the bow of the ship; boat 2 had a lamp but this was being rowed towards the stern of the Titanic. Also, when Ismay left, the water was nearly up to "A" deck on the port side; "A" is the deck directly below where the boats were housed.




While the romantic allure of the engineers dying at their posts is intoxicating, it is simply not true. Most, if not all (including the chief) were seen on deck before the Titanic sank. The stokers and other engineering staff had been released from their posts too by this time.




It seems unlikely that the men congregated in the smoking room as this scene depicts. Mind you, anyone who would have been there didn't survive anyway. Astor's line "I asked for ice but this is ridiculous" is a fable, and shame on the film makers for putting it in. After seeing his wife into one of the last boats, Astor probably stayed on the boat deck.




In his interview for the New York Times, Bride says that the stoker was actually slipping the lifejacket off Phillips, who was so immersed in sending out messages that he didn't notice what had happened. In the Times, Bride says "I hope I finished him...we left him on the cabin floor of the wireless room, and [the stoker] was not moving." At the British inquiry, Bride testified, "I held him and Mr. Phillips hit him."




This is pure bunkum. The message should have gone to the bridge and not pinned on a noticeboard; and isn't it a stunning coincidence that this warning puts icebergs more or less where the ship's SOS position was determined. The writing is hard to determine, but it seems to be from the "Mesaba"; if so, the co-ordinates and description of the ice is nothing like the real message. The time of receipt ("17.20"?) is a few hours too early too. And why have the ship's layout on the board too?




In this scene, stokers appear on deck; this at least has some basis in reality. Mrs.Mennell, who escaped in boat 2 (one of the last), later told of a line of some 16 or 18 stokers who filed by her and got into the boat. An officer - possibly Murdoch - yelled at them to get out and the men meekly complied. In the TV movie, Murdoch tells the stokers that the boat is full and then shots one stoker and then himself. The nature of the shooting on the boat deck is still controversial; we do not know for sure if it happened, and how many were shot. But none of the credible stories talk of stokers being gunned down. Of course, Murdoch's alledged suicide is controversial too. And all this happens while a boat is in the process of being lowered. IF the shooting and suicide ever happened it most likely occurred when the last boat on the starboard side was being hooked up to the davits.




We then cut to the Carpathia; previously the Titanic had told her that she would sink in an hour (which is wrong) and Rostron calculates that it would take 4 hours to get there. Captain Rostron now orders the Doctor to get the mates "to take a dozen heavy deck chairs below [and] equip with heavy bindings for the 'hysterics'." The closest we get to this order in reality is, "[make] gaskets handy near gangways for lashing people in chairs."
Rostron sees the first iceberg at 2.10am but he testified it was half an hour later. The officer with Rostron has three braids, the top one having a "hoop" indicating that he is the chief officer. This would be a gentleman by the name of Hankinson; but he didn't come on duty until 4am. The credits tell us that this man is 1st Officer Dean, but he would only have two braids.




Only a few boats were told to stay nearby, and boat 14 wasn't one of them; at any rate it wasn't to pick up survivors as Mrs.Paradine says. Lowe says that the reason they were pulling away was because of the suction but he himself testified, "I lay off from the Titanic, as near as I could roughly estimate, about 150 yards, because I wanted to be close enough in order to pick up anybody that came by." The rendezvous with the boats is confusing; boat 14 certainly did tie up with 4 others, but it was almost certainly after the ship had sunk, despite what Lowe claimed in testimony and in his affidavit.
Incidentally, there was no lamp in the boat. The occupants searched but none was to be found. The only source of light was an electric flashlight that Lowe used from time to time.




It's dark, but this seems to be Etches? What was he doing in the water; he escaped safely in boat 5.




We finally see Smith on the bridge alone. Given that he had said a few minutes previously that all the boats had gone, the bridge would probably have been flooded. An officer asks if he would try to save himself. Who is this officer? Murdoch was dead, it isn't Lightoller, Lowe was away - and that leaves Boxhall. In "real life" he had already escaped in a lifeboat.




The appearance of the 3rd class on deck should almost coincide with a huge surge of water rushing aft towards them as the boat deck dipped under.




Note how deep the forward boat deck is in the water; and the very high superstructure where the forward bulwark and bridge should be located; this is incompatible with the earlier view showing the massive morse lamp. During this whole drama, the impression given is that it was only women and children who were rescued, bar a few men. This is mainly true on the port side, which we see here, but on the starboard side, men were allowed into the boats.
Intriguingly, the davit base closest to the camera has lost its arm and screw-winding mechanism. And it is next to one of those ominously inaccurate staircases.




We now see people fleeing up the boat deck. But we see footage of the Grand Staircase flooding before this, and what looked like the aft well deck seconds before this. The shots are in the wrong order.




The women in Lowe's boat beg him not to go back; however, although at least one survivor in his boat remembered this, many were insistent that he did go back and rescue them. Accounts very on whether Lowe was eager to do this or not, and indeed, as to whether it was his own idea.




Our hero, the penniless waif, is in a collapsible boat, which is seen in a cortege with others. While it is true that boat "D" did wind up in Lowe's flotilla of boats it did wind up in a field of bodies and floating debris, including a spurious lifering with the ship's name on it (the rings were plain white). In this boat anyway, if it is "D", there was no refusal to help those struggling in the water. A few boats did refuse to go back upon hearing the cries of the dying, but certainly not this one.




In this scene, we see Lowe returning to look for survivors. But he really returned with a skeleton crew of crewmen in a virtually empty boat, with no passengers on board; the other boats in his flotilla were left behind and certainly did not see the sea of corpses as seen in this scene. At any rate, there are too few passengers in Lowe's boat in this scene anyway.




Lightoller and Bride wind up on the collapsible boat "B"; Bride was actually reclining along the side of the boat, while Lightoller was standing. But the most inaccurate part of this scene is Phillips being on the boat. This story has no basis in reality as George Behe has uncovered. It was simply hearsay and rumour in 1912 and has been discredited with modern research.




Boat 14 should have had its sail raised; Lowe's command to set blankets ablaza and shout to attract the attention of the new ship on the scene is wrong, too. He simply sailed towards her with his skeleton crew and the four people he had plucked from the water




This lifeboat is being raised with people in it, but they were never raised while occupants were still seated in them, only when they were empty. The people had to climb rope ladders etc. to get on board the Carpathia.




I am at a loss as to where these scenes on the Carpathia were filmed as nothing looks like her, especially the davits. And when it comes to adherence to historical fact, nothing else is right either. Passengers from the lifeboats did not disembark on the top deck, but rather through a series of gangway hatches in the hull. Alice Cleaver did not give a false name, and her name and that of baby Trevor were on the lists of survivors subsequently transmitted to shore. Ismay steps aboard simply saying "I'm Ismay." In point of fact he was shattered and inconsolable. In a further scene, Rostron meets Ismay and orders him to his cabin. This is wrong; it was the ships's suregon Dr.McGee who sent Imsay to his own room. Also note that Rostron orders "Mr Stevenson" to escort Ismay to his cabin. There is no such person on the Carpathia passenger and crew list.




It was actually 4th Officer Boxhall who imparted this information to Rostron, but in this drama, only Lowe survived. Lowe/Boxhall also gets the time of the foundering wrong; it was really 2.20am not 2.40. And this scene should be taking place just as dawn was breaking.




The Carpathia crew bring a dead body aboard via a lifeboat. This never happened; the only dead bodies were those taken on board from lifeboats, having expired during the night. The bodies were later buried at sea.




The Carpathia's cargo hold was never used for passengers or bodies, only the passenger and crew areas.




I am not sure if this is Bride or not. He suffered from injuries to his feet but never hobbled around on crutches. He was actually in the ship's hospital until near night when he was asked to help the Carpathia's wireless man transmit the survivor's list to shore.




The Carpathia approaches New York in broad daylight! It was night in reality, with some ferociously bad rainstorms. The funnel colour looks wrong too; it seems to be yellowish. It should have a red body with black rings, and a black top.




The set here bears no resemblance to the real pier. But at least they got the pier number ("54") and the street ("14th") right.




Finally, the drama concludes with a perfect statement of the research lavished upon it: "All attempts to raise [the wreck] have failed." If they mean 'The Big Piece' (a huge hull fragment dislodged from the hull when the ship disintegrated), the film makers are nearly right. An attempt was made in 1996 (before the miniseries was broadcast) but this failed; they finally succeeded two years later. But if the film-makers are talking about the whole wreck, they are wrong, for one simple reason: NO ONE HAS TRIED. Its beyond the capabilities of modern engineering anyway.


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