Had enough of Titanic yet?
In this centennial year of the disaster, the quest for
what the relatives of victims of unexplained deaths call ‘closure’ has acquired
new momentum. In this case, the
unexplained death is that of a ship.
James Cameron’s blockbuster of a few years ago is
about to be released in 3D format. To
coincide with this, he’s produced a clever television programme in which
oceanographic experts analyze, with the help of computer-generated data and
images, what happened to the great ship as its (by then) two halves plunged
more than two miles to the seabed. I
watched it last night, strangely absorbed, though I’m damned if I know why. Meanwhile, Julian Fellowes has a six-part
series running on television, a kind of nautical version of Downton Abbey. I can’t say I’ve found it riveting, no pun
In print, various new books have come out seeking to
explain why the ship sank. Earlier
publications, long out of print, have been reissued. Some of the explanations are quite
convoluted, and even include a conspiracy theory – namely that the Titanic
wasn’t really the Titanic at all but its sister ship Olympic, the two having
been switched (this time please pardon the pun) at berth.
I have no idea why the ship went down – whether it was
weak rivets, poor hull design, inadequate pumps, some idiot below the waterline
opening a window, or any of the other bizarre explanations being bandied about.
Surely the explanation is simple: Titanic hits an
iceberg, it rips a bloody great gash in its side, ship fills with water, sinks.
I’m surprised no one has thought of that.
As for our unending fascination with the tragedy,
Cameron has a view: Titanic is a microcosm for today’s troubled society. In this paradigm, like Titanic we are all hurtling
towards global economic (and climatic) disaster that will end in open warfare
between rich and poor, just as the doomed ship became a battleground for
survival between its first-class passengers and those in steerage.
Well I don’t know about that, but it may be an
interesting debating topic for radio call-in shows.
As a postscript, I end on a note of levity. The ever-reliably fatuous Daily Mail reports this morning that
China has censored the Kate Winslet nude scene in the 3D version of Cameron’s Titanic,
allegedly because members of the audience might be tempted to reach out to
touch her breasts.
protesting that China
has ‘butchered’ the scene, helpfully provides a photograph of Kate au
naturel. Her breasts have been
airbrushed out of the picture.