Posted by Jen
Director: Jon Jones
Cast: Ben Bishop, Glen Blackhall, Ruth Bradley, Toby Jones, Maria Doyle Kennedy
The Titanic is one of the things that really interest me, and I know a lot about it. This is one of the reasons I enjoy the James Cameron version, as it is very historically accurate. When I saw that this miniseries was premiering on the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking, I was excited. However, it turned out to be a hot mess.
There were two things I really liked about this series, though, and they showed that it had enormous potential. One was that it actually showed second class passengers, who largely go ignored in other Titanic movies, though I don’t know how historically accurate their portrayal was. The other thing that I liked was that it showed the ship and some of the passengers before sailing. They had an electrician putting lights in the ship in exchange for a room for his family. There were people painting the ship, and servants being hired. I found all of that very interesting, but that’s as far as it goes.
The show itself is separated into four hour-long episodes (including commercials) into first class, second class and crew, third class and servants, and then the ship sinking. This was very poorly executed, because there’s a large cast of characters and to bounce around like that, I feel like I didn’t get to know anyone. Therefore, when the ship sank and over 1,000 passengers died (making the Titanic the largest ship disaster in history, followed by the Lusitania and the Eastland), it had no impact on me. A lot of people dismiss the James Cameron film for mainly focusing on a love story, but by doing that, we as the audience became invested in the characters. I’m not saying that this miniseries should have done that, but they at least needed to stay with a character long enough for me to remember their names. It was almost too ambitious for the time allotted.
Titanic hits the iceberg about a third of the way into the first episode, then ends with the first class passengers debating whether or not to get into a lifeboat. We go back to before the ship has sailed and follow the crew and second class. It ends just after the ship hits the iceberg and we start all over again with the third class passengers and the servants. The fourth episode is, in my opinion, the worst one. Instead of focusing on the ship sinking, the people in the lifeboats, and the those fated to die in the icy water, it goes back to the last few minutes of each episode, showing what’s already been shown, but adds a line or two of dialogue to it. They don’t show the boat as it sinks due to budget constraints (it actually costs more to make a movie about the Titanic than it did to build the ship, even counting inflation), and we just see the tail end of it sinking into the water. What we don’t really see are the survivors. We can guess who got away and who survived, and we get to see a select few of them, but I’ve spent four hours of my life with these characters; I want closure.
Overall, it was very disappointing. There was so much they could have done with 4 hours, but it was too big a project and too small a budget.