As another anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking draws nigh, Lileks wonders: are we finished with this titanicstory? Perhaps. But even if we’ve exhausted Titanic nostalgia, we can still consider how other eras looked at the catastrophe. The Ramble examines five Titanic movies – not so much for their storytelling, but their backstories and musical contributions. Bonus: Nazis. Double bonus: A Star Trek connection.

Subscribe to James Lileks' The Ramble in iTunes (and leave a 5-star review, please!), or by RSS feed. For all our podcasts in one place, subscribe to the Ricochet Audio Network Superfeed in iTunes or by RSS feed.

Now become a Ricochet member for only $5.00 a month! Join and see what you’ve been missing.

There are 18 comments.

  1. John Murdoch Inactive

    If you ever find yourself in Halifax, Nova Scotia, visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Many of the first responders to the Titanic sinking were ships and boats from Halifax–practically all of the bodies that were retrieved were brought there.

    It’s a fascinating museum–I highly recommend it.

    Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

    • #1
    • April 12, 2016, at 7:09 AM PDT
    • Like
  2. KC Mulville Inactive

    What makes the Titanic so compelling, for me anyway, is that it presents the question: “how should I die?” Meaning, do I scramble for every last moment, tossing others aside if necessary? Or should I die with grace and dignity? That’s why we remember the musicians; they deliberately chose to die that way.

    Like Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory … you know death is coming. How do you want to go out?

    • #2
    • April 12, 2016, at 8:24 AM PDT
    • Like
  3. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    Dropping the diamond into the ocean always stuck in my craw also.

    • #3
    • April 12, 2016, at 8:26 AM PDT
    • Like
  4. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Coincidentally, I just discovered this song, by the same guy who recorded Major Tom:

    • #4
    • April 12, 2016, at 8:42 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Rightfromthestart:Dropping the diamond into the ocean always stuck in my craw also.

    • #5
    • April 12, 2016, at 9:51 AM PDT
    • Like
  6. Old Bathos Member

    The story of the Titanic will not lose its appeal because it provides us an envious fantasy of the good life, the elegance of a time when the 1% offered style instead of hectoring us about climate change and acceptance of novel forms sexual deviance.

    The story also also ends with all those rich people dying which is tres Bernie ’16 and very satisfying to many currently resentful Americans.

    The fact that so many of the male 1% chose to go down with the ship rather than displace any women and children is symbolic of the end of chivalry and manhood in the debased present era.

    Lastly, that a rich, connected, malignant weasel like Cal Hockley survived but heroic Jack Dawson died seems like everything that is wrong with America today.

    • #6
    • April 12, 2016, at 9:59 AM PDT
    • Like
  7. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks Post author

    Old Bathos: Lastly, that a rich, connected, malignant weasel like Cal Hockley survived but heroic Jack Dawson died seems like everything that is wrong with America today.

    Maybe everything that was wrong with Cameron. Rose wouldn’t have been as impressive a character if she hadn’t gone on to do a million things as a Strong, Independent Woman Who Didn’t Need No Man.

    At least Cal shot himself later, so there’s that.

    • #7
    • April 12, 2016, at 12:19 PM PDT
    • Like
  8. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks Post author

    Misthiocracy:Coincidentally, I just discovered this song, by the same guy who recorded Major Tom

    Thanks! I’m surprised I never went looking for anything else Schilling did; “Major Tom” is one of my favorite guilty pleasures of the 80s.

    • #8
    • April 12, 2016, at 12:26 PM PDT
    • Like
  9. JamesAtkins Member


    • #9
    • April 12, 2016, at 2:59 PM PDT
    • Like
  10. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks Post author



    Yeah, at some point, I think they would have thought twice about letting her on board.

    • #10
    • April 12, 2016, at 6:25 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. Arthur Beare Member

    The Titanic is also an interesting case of decision making.

    The official guidance at the time was that, if collision was unavoidable, it was best to hit it head on. Doing so would certainly have killed a lot of the steerage folks in the bow, but the ship would probably have remained afloat with several of the bow compartments breached. It was designed for this and also designed to survive being cut in two (an accident a few years earlier had led to this being a part of the design specification, and was why the ship was thought to be unsinkable).

    So, as a junior officer on the bridge, do you ram the berg, knowing beyond any doubt that many people will be killed, or do you try to miss it (they nearly did)? This seems to me a no-brainer: of course you go for the miss.

    It is more excruciating if you are the captain, because he knew how poorly she responded to the helm, and probably would have judged the probability of missing the berg as fairly small. What would you have done in his shoes?

    • #11
    • April 12, 2016, at 11:16 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. aardo vozz Member

    James Lileks may link the sinking of the Titanic to tax day, but it unfortunately reminds me more of this election year.

    • #12
    • April 13, 2016, at 12:42 AM PDT
    • Like
  13. RPD Member

    I always liked the “Raise the Titanic” book, but was rather disappointed in the movie. That when I was of an age to routinely raid my father’s bookshelf for his left overs.

    • #13
    • April 13, 2016, at 6:29 AM PDT
    • Like
  14. Brandon Shafer Coolidge

    Why is the volume on this podcast via itunes so low?

    • #14
    • April 13, 2016, at 12:58 PM PDT
    • Like
  15. Joe Gee Inactive

    Mr. Lileks and I have previously tweeted about our love for the Barry score from Raise the Titanic.

    Intro to the film here. Great combination of the “Prelude” and the Ken Burns effect (pre-Ken Burns!).

    Theatrical trailer for Raise the Titanic here. (Bonus: a Star Wars connection!)

    Man, that was a goofy film. I loooooved the book as a middle schooler, begged my father to take me to see the film as a young high schooler, and then spent the next 20 years whistling the theme in my head until I heard it again.

    By the way, it takes a special kind of filmmaker to turn the delish Anne Archer into a full-time nuisance. No rare mineral is worth putting up with Ms. Dana Archibald. But Dr. Gene Seagram was just the type of dolt to deserve it.

    Entire soundtrack here for you Spotify fans.

    “Thank God for Southby!”

    • #15
    • April 13, 2016, at 7:26 PM PDT
    • Like
  16. Profile Photo Member

    There are more than five Titanic movies, a good place to start is this title, worth the read, although increasingly hard to find, The Titanic and Silent Cinema. The first film, complete with sinking, that survives, can be seen on Youtube, In Nacht und Eis. A 1912 German film.

    Also, there is a movie about the HMHS Britannic, it’s ok, at best.

    Also, there is one great work of art music about the Titanic, Cyril Scott’s Neptune:

    • #16
    • April 14, 2016, at 11:52 AM PDT
    • Like
  17. Profile Photo Member

    Although, there are more than five, not sure they really worth seeking out unless you’re a Titanic completist!

    • #17
    • April 14, 2016, at 3:37 PM PDT
    • Like
  18. Charlotte Member

    Next time, a Spoiler Alert would be appreciated.



    • #18
    • April 17, 2016, at 8:58 AM PDT
    • Like