This week, the world commemorates the anniversary of the sinking of The Titanic. Let’s hope that more diligence will be employed in relating its history accurately during this centennial than the butchered version offered by writer-director James Cameron in his Oscar-winning film, “Titanic.”
There were too many historical flaws in Cameron’s story to include here. The most egregious assault was the totally false portrayal of Lt. William McMaster Murdoch, the officer in charge during that tragic night. Cameron portrayed him as an incompetent and a coward who pushed others aside and shot a man in order to get on a lifeboat to save himself.
It’s a total lie. Lt. Murdock spent the last moments of his life getting reluctant passengers on lifeboats, women and children first, then men, and stayed on duty until he perished in the icy waters as the giant ship sank.
This absolutely false portrayal was distressful for the family and descendants of Lt. Murdoch. And that is the “history” that will remain embedded in the public’s consciousness, including him being seen as a murderer.
To kill a man’s good name, to deliberately slander and libel a fine gentleman officer–and a heroic one at that– who saved others at the cost of his own life is unthinkable.
Cameron is too talented a filmmaker to resort this this kind of sensationalism at the expense of good people and their families. He does not need this kind of exploitation to put punch in his films.
So how did Cameron and the studio make amends for slaughtering the reputation of a beloved family member? Why, they donated 5,000 pounds to the Lt. Murdoch Memorial Fund which, of course, made everything right.
The movie with its spectacular special effects was a blockbuster and will no doubt will be extra gripping with the new 3D version, in theaters now. But Cameron should have presented this as a story based on the sinking of the Titanic, not as a real account or with the real names of Titanic officers in his fictionalized version of history.