Avid fan compares two Titanic films


By STEVEN OSBURN, Staff Reporter |

The sinking of the Titanic has been a subject of interest of mine ever since I was a small child. Watching James Cameron’s film haunted me and I had to learn more about this historic event.

I learned that the Jack and Rose plot of the movie was entirely fictional, and most of the historical elements he added while shooting were cut from the film.  This disappointed me, but I learned of another film from 1958 called “A Night to Remember.” 

Unlike Cameron’s “Titanic,” this film is based on survivor accounts, and shows different real life perspectives as the ship was sinking. 

Cameron’s “Titanic” is a visual masterpiece. To see accurate sets, period clothing, and some recreated paintings and photographs from the real ship is an absolute delight.   

The ship is real. When it sinks, it’s either a sinking model or the set is being lowered into a large pool of water. “A Night to Remember” doesn’t hold a candle visually.  It is dated in terms of effects. “Titanic” wins this round

How do the films work as recreations of the tragedy? Well, it depends. Is it more important that it looks right, or that the characters act right? “Titanic” looks as accurate as a sinking ship can.  

People panicking, the ship getting lower into the water, the ship breaking in half and hundreds of people are left to freeze to death in the cold waters of the north Atlantic..

“A Night to Remember,” however, plays all sides.  Where some characters got a small mention, or were deleted entirely in “Titanic,” they shine in “A Night to Remember.”  

Margaret Brown is one of the highlights of both films, but she is stronger in the 1958 film.  Instead of being out for most of the sinking, she is seen taking action. She helps a woman into a boat, and demands to go back to save lives. Captain Smith, Bruce Ismay, Thomas Andrews all are better portrayed in “A Night to Remember” than in “Titanic.”

In “A Night to Remember,” the Carpathia, the ship that picked up the survivors, is shown, as is the Californian, a nearby ship that heard the distress calls, saw the distress rockets and watched the ship sink, but did nothing that night.  This film is the only Titanic movie to show these other ships’ perspective on the event.

As far as “A Night to Remember” goes, it is absolutely packed with history, while “Titanic” is packed with teenage hormones and melodrama. 

On one hand, “Titanic” is the best visual representation of the ship sinking, and had a ton of heart put into the effects.  But on the other hand, “A Night to Remember” is one of the best historical films ever made because of its accurate storytelling and countless cast of characters.  

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