Couch Potato Pickings | Titanic, and other fact-based disaster movies


Is it just me, or has it been difficult to avoid the 9/11 programming on TV in the UK this week?

As recent years have shown, when the anniversary of the 2001 September 11th atrocities approaches, the schedules respond. In addition to the various programmes about that shocking day, we had the chance to see 9/11 disaster movie World Trade Center on Saturday and 9/11 documentary drama United 93 on Sunday.

I couldn’t watch either. As yet, I’ve not been ready to do so. Is it respectful to gain entertainment from human suffering that occurred less than a decade ago? In actual fact, both movies were made within five years of the event. You see, I’m not sure.

For fact-based disaster movies, I believe that a certain amount of time should pass before those disasters are portrayed on screen. For this reason, tonight’s blockbuster, for me, is much easier to watch than those still too current 9/11 dramatisations.


The Titanic sunk in 1912. The first mainstream movie depiction was in 1953. Anyone directly affected by the disaster would have had half a lifetime to come to terms with it before seeing it in the movies, and of course James Cameron’s version was a good 85 years after the event.

What do you think of tonight’s movie?


I asked this question at the weekend of a friend who has just returned from a trip to Halifax, Novia Scotia (in case you didn’t know, Halifax is where many of the Titanic’s recovered bodies were taken). My friend is a notorious hater of romance on screen. Thrillers, horror movies, apocalyptic dramas – those are his sort of films. So you can imagine my surprise when he revealed that he thinks that Cameron’s Titanic is a great film.

Consequently, I’ve been forced to rethink my perception of this movie. Is it a tale of doomed romance with a Celine Dion soundtrack, or is it actually a brilliant portrayal of the last moments of the most famous cruise liner in the world?

Titanic, Kate Winslet,Leonardo DiCaprio

For my friend, the love story plot between Kate Winslet’s Rose and Leonardo Di-Caprio’s Jack Dawson is incidental to the ship sinking action. It’s the brilliant portrayal of that vessel and the clever use of scale models and CGI to recreate its demise that, for my friend, make this a film truly deserving of its 11 Oscars.

Did you know that there’s a grave in the Titanic burial ground in Halifax, Novia Scotia for Titanic victim J Dawson? This has caused many fans of the film to assume that DiCaprio’s character was based on a real person. But, apparently the J does not stand for Jack. Read more about that here.  

Titanic is showing on Film 4 tonight at 6.55pm

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