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Titanic

3.8 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Before James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster Titanic, the Hollywood Titanic of 1953, the 1958 British film A Night to Remember, and the 1997 Broadway musical Titanic, there was the Nazi German film Titanic. A Tonis production begun in 1942, this production nearly sank as decisively as the doomed ocean liner. The film's director, Herbert Selphin, infuriated with the slow second-unit shooting in the port of Gdynia, was overheard making remarks damning the German army. Reported to the Gestapo, Selphin was arrested and later found hanging in his prison cell, the victim of an arranged "suicide." In April, 1943, the film was banned by the Berlin censors for German release because of its terrifying scenes of panic, all to familiar to German civilizations undergoing nightly Allied bombing raids. After extensive cutting, Titanic was released in occupied Paris and a few army installations. The film was seen in Germany finally in late 1949, but banned a few months later in the Western sectors (though not in the Soviet zone, because of its unmistakable anti-British-capitalist theme). Technically, this Titanic is an excellent catastrophic film; its shots of the ship sinking were later used by the 1958 British film without credit. Somewhat true to the facts - though peppered with fictional good Germans both on and below deck, in steerage - the film ends with a trial scene that acquits the White Star Line management, followed by a final slide denouncing England's "eternal quest for profit." These packed a powerful propaganda punch ; cut from the post-war prints, they have been restored for this Kino on Video version.

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sybille Schmitz, Hans Nielsen, Kirsten Heiberg, Ernst Fritz Fürbringer, Karl Schönböck
  • Directors: Herbert Selpin, Werner Klingler
  • Writers: Herbert Selpin, Hansi Köck, Harald Bratt, Walter Zerlett-Olfenius
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: July 20, 2004
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002CHI3S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,715 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Titanic" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Doug Urquhart on January 16, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I must confess that I am a devout 'Rivet Counter', aka Titanic buff. I found this DVD, particularly the 'extras', to be a valuable addition to my library.

The DVD includes an advertising film from White Star, showing the amenities aboard the Olympic, one of Titanic's sister ships. It gives an excellent idea of the atmosphere aboard a great Edwardian liner.

Also included is the notorious newsreel, cobbled together in 1912, purporting to show Captain Smith on board Titanic before leaving Southampton. The scenes were actually shot on Olympic, in New York harbor, but the producers of the film cleverly disguised this by painting out any incriminating evidence, such as the words 'New York' on the sterns of the tugboats.

Now for the film itself. It's actually quite impressive, given the time and place where it was produced, and of course, provided you take it all with a healthy pinch of salt.

The plot takes various liberties with the truth, largely for propaganda reasons. Titanic was the fastest ship in the world, and Captain Smith was pressured by the evil Bruce Ismay (who had brought his mistress on board with him) into taking the dangerous Northern route, to save time. Winning the Blue Riband would improve the value of White Star stock, much to the dismay of Astor, who was plotting against them. Meanwhile, the only sane man aboard was First Officer Petersen (who happened to be German) who spends his time helping the passengers while his English officers and their Capitalist bosses plot their own downfall......

Lies, all lies....

However, just put all that to one side and enjoy the film. It really isn't bad, and the special effects are excellent for their day. I understand that some scenes were used in 'A Night to Remember'.
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Format: DVD
This film has a bizzare history, starting as a propaganda piece for the Nazi party, to the suicide of it's director in military prison, to the constant re-editing and outright banning by the political censors.

Much has been made of how the film is a politically motivated indictment of Great Britain, but that never truly comes across except in the final coda at the end. If anything, the film (at least from a modern perspective), is more focussed on condemning the greed of the rich and powerful.

While the Germans played a bit fast and loose with history (such as having a "good" German officer/hero take the place of the British Lightoller, and White Star Line president Ismay being freely offered place in a lifeboat), most of the film is fairly accurate in depicting the basic events we are all familiar with. However, and perhaps not surprisingly, there is a noticable lack of heroism except for the actions of the one German officer. The balance of the passengers and crew are evil and greedy corporate and society types, or otherwise just downright helpless.

The drawing room intrigue and staid romantic entanglements get a bit dry after a while, but once the ship gets into trouble, things pick up nicely. Although the slanting of the decks is not effectively realized, the actual flooding of the ship is well done with miniatures and live action sets. Fans of James Cameron's "Titanic" will no doubt recognize the innocent-man-trapped-in-a-flooding-cabin sequence, among other things.

Kino has done a pretty good job restoring the film to it's original running time. Some elements are washed out, and others show scuffs and scratches. However, it's probably the best that could be hoped for given the film's history.
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5 Comments 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
And a fascinating film no matter how you look at it. The legend is that it was instigated by Joseph Goebbles as one of his supreme efforts in anti-British propaganda. But when all was said and done, it backfired big time. The director of the film, Herbert Selpin, was murdered by the Nazis for crafting what seems today a thinly-veiled indictment of the Nazi government, and this "Titanic" ended up being banned from all German theaters until years after the war. And then, the British banned it again (they never did like being reminded of the disaster) for its supposed anti-British content, while at the same time it was being shown with no problem in those parts of Germany occupied by the Soviet Union. Oddly enough, they had no problem with the film's anti-Capitalist tone. In any event, this "Titanic" remains one of film history's most fascinating takes on the famous legend -- a roughly equal mixture of historical fact, outrageous legend, and outright lies. Still, it's better than some of Hollywood's films on the same subject, and you don't have to look far to see where James Cameron cribbed a lot of the ideas for his own over praised epic. There are also some very impressive (for the time) special effects, many of which were used in what is still the best Titanic film, 1958's "A Night to Remember," along with some of the most moving sequences to appear in any film about the tragedy (my favorite is the moment when wireless operator Phillips releases his pet canary into the night sky). My highest praise to Kino video for making this important historical film available in a proper DVD release with English subtitles. It's a must for both the film and Titanic buffs out there who think that they've seen it all.
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