on April 17, 2012
I am a historian, but I have also fairly accepted all Titanic movies and TV shows. So I will tell you about the Pros and Cons about this series and you can decide if you like it or not.
First off, let me say that I liked it. This series presented a new dynamic to seeing the Titanic and it also presented new real people who were on the ship (the Wideners, the Duff Gordons, and Dorothy Gibson are some examples). However, the first thing I will talk about is how the series is set up. The first three episodes have generally so many different points of view that are happening on the show. This is an awesome new way to look at a TV show, but you may not like this new style and thus the whole way the series is filmed will not be good for you. So in the end I liked this new dynamic, but depending who you are you may not like the way it is filmed with various point of views.
Now what are the plots? The good news is that this series did not generally rip off the popular James Cameron Titanic movie. This series does not really have a person from one class falling in love with another. Instead, there is a story in each class. The first episode will be off course first class where the wealthy elite of society are. The main character is the Earl of Manton is travelling with his wife Lady Manton and daughter Georgiana. Before the the voyage, Georgiana had ended up in jail and her father had to get her out. So Manton hopes to keep his daughter away from England while he goes to business in New York City. He also hopes she finds a husband. They also end up in conflict with some people who work for them in second class.
The second class story stars John Bately and his wife Muriel. John finds out his employer, the Earl of Manton, will be on board travelling first class. Bately is an attorney hired by Manton to hide a bad incident in his past. Muriel does not like her husband's business with people like the Earl of Manton.
Another story stars a perspective from the crew. Paolo, an Italian immigrant is travelling as a waiter in the first class dining room. He ends up falling in love with Annie, a maid for the second class passengers. The questions is if she will come with him to America and leave the ship when it docks in New York.
There are far more stories including one for third class, one for the captain and officers, and one for the private servants who work for the Mantons.
In terms of realism, the people a Titanic historian would know are all in the crew and are travelling first class and I will say some of them are not portrayed well as they seem really angry. That is one of the main problems with several characters. The other problem is that there might be too many for someone to remember. Another problem is that we don't really see the fates of everyone and that can be a problem. I felt it was a sign that Fellowes eventually knew he had too much to work with.
Also don't expect to see a big Grand Staircase, or the lookouts before hitting the iceberg. Some of the effects are a little moderate. The most major problem in my opinion is how it is filmed. I can keep up with the different points of view, but others may not and I can understand that.
Overall, I liked the series, but I can see why it would be a problem for some.
on May 11, 2012
I do not understand the complaints this is getting. I will try to explain reasons I loved this while addressing complaints I've seen. Before I do that I will say it is not accurate, it is not perfect--I'm not saying it is. But it is a brilliant, wonderful fictional series of what might have been going on. And I enjoyed this more than I did the Cameron film.
1. Fictional characters. Yes, it is about fictional characters. At first I was annoyed but then I loved it. By using fictional characters, they were able to tell these different stories. I would LOVE a movie about the real people on the ship, but the fictional thing did not bother me.
2. The complexity. In the first episode I got a little bit confused at all the jumping around but then the next three episodes fixed that. I was able to follow the different story lines easily and I loved, loved, LOVED the jumping around as it started showing explanations. I started getting very intrigued realizing what they were doing with that. In episode one, for instance, it showed Batley for a couple seconds seeing the iceberg. Then in episode two we saw WHY he was out on deck and it was like an "oh, I get it!" moment. And this happened... a LOT. There were so many "a-ha!"s going on for me that it kept me very interested and glued to the TV.
3. The characters. Oh, goodness, how could anyone be bored? These characters were for the most part many times more interesting than the ones from the Cameron film. At first I pretty much disliked most the characters and thought they were one-dimensional. Then the iceberg hit and things started unraveling, and the characters started changing. You get to see the hidden layers that they all would have. In the Cameron film I could pretty much guess how Rose would act, how Jack would act, how Rose's mother would act, etc, etc. In this one, there were so many hidden depths to the characters. Sure there were a few I didn't really care about but they still surprised me.
4. The ending. This was... so emotional. I cried more in this one than I did the Cameron one. It may not show a character drowning, or freezing to death, but I can't imagine how anyone watching this can see the final moments of a character and not understand what happened to them. Even the ones that you didn't see in the water or whatnot, I still understood what happened to them. The final episode was just... very intense... and so emotional.
Addressing some other issues people seemed to have with it: the iceberg hitting the ship was very clear to me and though not as "dramatic" as the Cameron film, it certainly wasn't over in "the blink of an eye". The setting? No grand staircase, but I really didn't miss it. Plus the "Victorian sitting room" style seemed suiting, as the Titanic was a luxury ship and would probably seem that way in first class.
As long as you understand that this is about fictional characters, and have the attention span to follow complex, intricate drama--give it a try.
I was quite excited when I heard that Julian Fellowes had signed on to write a new miniseries exploring the legendary Titanic tragedy. Fellowes is the reigning champion of upstairs/downstairs drama as evidenced by his Oscar winning screenplay for Altman's "Gosford Park" and his wildly successful production of "Downton Abbey." While that upscale soap opera is currently all-the-rage, it seemed a prime opportunity for Fellowes to branch out. Without a doubt, the class divisions, struggles and tensions aboard the Titanic certainly appeared to match his previous themes. And yet, while the idea seemed like an easy home run, "Titanic" (for all its elegance) is lacking in character drama that makes one actually care. The passengers on this ill-fated voyage are only superficially presented and their back stories are largely uninspired or entirely predictable. While there are still some good elements to "Titanic," therefore, I never felt the time investment in watching the four part miniseries paid off in any appreciable way.
The shortcomings of this particular trip rests almost squarely on the unimaginative screenplay. While I liked the idea of the overlapping structure of the show (each part presents different characters during the same pivotal time frame), it was an interesting narrative device that really didn't amount to much. The huge cast is impressive, but the characters lack dimension. A few stand-outs include Linus Roache (perhaps my favorite character, seen only sporadically after the first episode) as a progressive Earl, Toby Jones (always reliable) as a second class passenger dealing with a disappointed wife (The Tudor's Maria Doyle Kennedy in the series' most thankless role), and Glen Blackhall as an Italian immigrant working on the ship. But these and many more great actors are given an array of lackluster cliche's to serve up.
Plotlines include undying new love in the upper class, undying new love in the lower decks (two characters spend about 30 minutes of real time together before committing to a future), a married woman with an unexplored attraction to an enigmatic stranger, and all the class snobbery that one might expect. A few of the story threads showed signs of life but never get developed beyond the most perfunctory way. And if you're just waiting for the climatic sinking sequence, it lacks any type of visual impact. In the end, it's all about who will live and who will die. And as the show drew to its conclusion, I realized I didn't really care much one way or another. Truly a disappointment! KGHarris, 4/12.
I watched this on ABC and recorded it without the commercials and watched it again. I had high hopes for this mini-series but I really felt it didn't work for several reasons which had little to do with production values or poor casting. The casting was really quite good and for a television production which didn't have a billion dollar budget and mega special effects, it was really quite well done and rather impressive.
My problem with this production gravitated around issues such as continuity, character development, and something that is virtually insurmountable --- the legend of the Titanic itself.
I think it is difficult to play around with anything that has its basis in fact because too much has been written about the Titanic. While the subject is being overworked right now due to the centennial of the disaster, the event has been in the public eye for decades and got a new life when the wreckage was located and explored 26 years ago. Traveling Titanic shows, books, documentaries, and James Cameron's films have stoked public interest and has provided at the very least a common perception of what occured on April 14-15, 1912.
This production attempts to mimic the formula that has made Downton Abbey a phenomena. Julian Fellowes has written a screenplay that mixes real people and events with fictional characters that represent all classes of people present on the ship and creates multiple personal storylines for his ficticious characters. The problem I had with this is a mini series of less than four hours doesn't allow the viewer to get invested in the characters and their stories as well as an epic disaster. This production also hops all over the Titanic roadmap, bouncing between multiple narratives and the actual sinking. I even think some scenes (or at least parts of scenes) are reused throughout the story. I found myself flipping between flooding corridors and lifeboats being loaded and scenes that had to have occurred earlier. It tends to be somewhat confusing, though I concede that when I viewed it a second time without commercials it did make more sense.
There were some areas where this story managed to remain true to the original event. There was the feistyness of Mrs. Margaret Brown, the model/actress Dorothy Gibson flightiness, the wealthy Philadelphia Wideners private dinner on the night of the sinking, Benjamin Guggenheim was traveling with his mistress, officers Murdoch and Lightoller were accurately portrayed as they were involved loading the lifeboats. All of this added a sense of authenticity to this production which is focused on a fictional study of a class system. The Titanic is an excellent metaphor for the class system that was in place at the time and ultimately resulted in the overwhelming number of third class passengers that died. However, I really didn't get the way Captain Smith was portrayed. He came off as a pompous incompetent and seemed to be jockeying for the mantle of ultimate villain with J. Bruce Ismay. This is obviously a dramatic conceit to place blame on someone for the disaster, but I am not sure it worked or was even necessary. Titanic sank because there was a convergence of many isolated events/flaws that came together to create the ultimate disaster. Really isn't that dramatic enough? Something that wasn't supposed to happen did.
In retrospect, I think the thing that sunk this production was the lack of time to develop the characters properly, the choppy editing which really lost me for the most part, and the endless commercial breaks. It was really difficult to feel invested in the fictional characters. The only plot that was simple enough to work was a romance between a maid and an Italian waiter. It was simple and direct so it worked.
The dvd release should be better ---- no commercials, but I think more would have to be done to pull this story together. What works so well with Downton Abbey doesn't seem to work in this instance. Time wasn't on the Titanic's side and the same is true regarding this screenplay. It was far to ambitious given the amount of air time this project was given. There were far too many ficticious characters and far too many story threads to present the rarified world of Titanic given its frenetic pace.
The DVD hasn't been released here yet but the 'mini-series' is now over. It is difficult to call this amalgamation of snippets about an historic tragedy a miniseries because it was spread out so unevenly (3 hours on first night, one hour on second night) and we are now informed that the film is a total of 184 minutes which means that the fourth hour was completely filled with the most distracting and disrupting of commercials. Why this new version of TITANIC wasn't place on cable television where it could have been enjoyed on one uninterrupted three hour showing is beyond understanding. Perhaps when the DVD is released and there are no loud and ugly commercials every 5 minutes the story will hold together.
Julian Fellowes, so respected for his writing of such series as Downton Abbey, etc. seems to have the urge to tell the story of the event through quick snippets of personal stories among the passengers - a commendable idea, but when the tiny tales are buried in the almost immediate collision with the iceberg and the attempt to flesh out the story by making it about how tragedy affects people's relationships come as little disconnected pop-ups, it is difficult to care about anybody, much less get to know them well enough to remember them at picture's end. Granted there are some moments before the ship is finished that emphasize the fact that the unsinkable Titanic was rushed to completion before it was safely ready, and those flashbacks to offer some interesting moments.
But basically the story is the same as all the other TITANIC movies - a study about class distinction not only among the peerage of Brits but also the differentiation among first, second and third (steerage) classes - with a hefty dollop of snubbing the crass American passengers. Jon Jones directs this amalgamation of ideas. There are some brief but tasty moments for actors such as Glen Blackhall (a memorable Paolo) and Antonio Magro (Paolo's brother Mario), Peter McDonald, Steven Waddington, Ruth Bradley Linus Roache and Geraldine Somerville as the Mantons, Toby Jones and Maria Doyle Kennedy, Celia Emrie, James Wilby and Dragos Bucur (the stowaway Russian). The rest of the cast is so little used that they all but disappear.
The film was apparently shot on digital video. Some of the effects are fine, but the whole film lacks cohesion - at least on the American release on commercial televsion! Grady Harp, April 12
on November 9, 2014
I was a little disappointed by the sequencing of the story. Would have been better if it did not keep going back to the beginning to pick up the stories of all characters. This creates confusion when viewing, because you think you hit the wrong button on the remote. and search for the correct place until you realize what the writers are doing. And a lot of the main characters with which we are all familiar, were not brought to light in this version, despite the longer run time. I love all Titanic movies especially "A Night to Remember". So if you also love Titanic movies, this may well disappoint. The story could have been a bit longer and have gone into more depth on the building of and the shortcuts taken by the builders, which caused this tragedy. Overall the movie was disappointing.
on April 14, 2014
Ouch, the title says "Titanic," so I thought I'm ordering the original motion picture Titanic (1997) directed by James Cameroon, repackaged in 2012. In fact, this is "Titanic" (2012) TV mini-series. I'm sorry for the SPOILER, but if you wish to see the sinking of Titanic from the viewpoint of four different characters, buy this show. Each episode contains one slightly different approach toward the same event, and... that's it. It made us feel we're having a nightmare, which--I admit--might've been the producer's original idea. Great picture quality, good acting, excellent costumes and make up, yet that's the only good thing I can say about this greatly enticing production. If you want a better plot and more intriguing storytelling, go with the original motion picture or try your luck with Titanic: Blood & Steel (2012) or go with The Titanic (2004), staring Catherine Zeta Jones and George C. Scott. Trust me, you won't be disappointed!
on April 16, 2012
Since I first fell in love with the stories surrounding the ill-fated ocean liner at age thirteen, I have read and watched anything I can get my hands on pertaining to the ship. For someone who knows nothing about Titanic, this miniseries by Julian Fellowes may prove illuminating if at times downright misleading, but it is certainly nothing to write home about.
With the suffragist movement sweeping across England, Lord Manton (Linus Roache) has been having trouble keeping his daughter Georgiana (Perditia Weeks) in line. Her most recent escapade has landed her in the local lock-up, and out of desperation he decides that a change of scenery might do her some good. Enlisting the assistance of friend Bruce Ismay (James Wilby) to book Georgiana a first class cabin on the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic, he hopes that a stint in New York will put her mind to better uses than feminism. Also on board, in second class, is his employee John Batley (Toby Jones) and his wife Muriel (Maria Doyle Kennedy). It doesn't take long for Muriel to clash with Lady Louisa (Geraldine Somerville) and let out secrets Lord Manton did not want made into public knowledge.
Meanwhile, stewardess Annie (Jenna-Louise Coleman) is being wooed by an Italian last-minute steward Paelo (Glen Blackhall), who fears that once they land in America he may never see her again. The servants of the Grex family share a secret that could endanger them both, an anarchist has set his intentions on another man's wife in steerage, and Second Officer Charles Lightoller (Steven Waddington) must cope with a shuffle in position, as well as the challenges the night presents as it wears on.
Trying to reproduce the tragedy on this topic scaled for television is not an enviable task since it has nowhere near the budget of the big-screen blockbuster. Other series and movies have managed to work around that, but unfortunately this vision is hampered by a rushed narrative that insists on a reset for the first three installments. Carrying the audience through events up to the sinking and then returning to tell a different story hinders us from emotional involvement with already-established characters, and greatly limits our scope, both for the real figures of the disaster and the ship itself. That none of the staterooms, the first class dining room, or even the deck resemble the real thing is less important than the fact that the entire production feels claustrophobic. The rooms are so small, and our interludes kept to so few figures, that we never really get to see what an incredible achievement Titanic truly was, much less how many people were on board. The sinking scenes are suitably crowded, but not the dining rooms. Fellowes' script also makes some truly appalling mistakes, ranging from mixed church sessions on board ship to the behavior and placement of individual figures during the sinking.
Various miniature love stories unfold and there are times we are drawn into the emotions of the moment, but alas, we get to know no one all that well, so when their fate transpires we feel as if we should have felt more than we did. Then too, the lack of a memorable score makes the emotions in many important scenes fall flat. Characters are introduced and then nothing is done with them. Thomas Andrews simply disappears. One officer is manning the wrong boat. The Duff-Gordons are slandered.
Television has needed a decent miniseries on this topic for a long time. But this isn't it. It founders where it should glide, thanks mostly to the problematic structure. It would work better as one cohesive narrative, with events unfolding simultaneously leading up to the sinking and less of a scattered focus. It needed to be built around one or two characters, not a dozen. But alas, instead we are stuck with a miniseries aspiring to be much more than it actually is.
on April 16, 2012
With all of the talent aboard and behind this miniseries, what could have been an extraordinary piece of filmmaking turned out to be a lackluster, dull four hours. The eagerly awaited Titanic miniseries penned by Julian Fellowes of Gosford Park and Downton Abbey fame, introduced several interesting characters; however, the four-hour allotted time didn't allow any of these characters to develop. Sketches and black and white outlines of Lords, Ladies, Molly Brown, stewards, maids and an early film star are all we were left with. If the series had been six or more episodes it may have worked, but alas, four hours was not adequate time to get to know at least twenty major characters. Let's face it, Fellowes forte is the character study and sadly, he was not allowed to do that in Titanic.
Two performances sparkled - Glen Blackhall as Italian steward, Paolo Sandrini and Jenna-Louise Coleman as Annie Desmond, his love interest. These two young actors brightened the screen and stole every scene in which they appeared. I dare say that these were the only characters that seemed real and sympathetic. These talented young actors are ones to watch! Several great actors like James Wilby, Celia Imrie and David Calder (as Captain Smith) were all but wasted. The character of Captain Smith basically walked on and then walked off - too bad, for history relates Smith as a remarkable fellow.
The issue of social class was handled rather heavy-handedly, making it seem as if one social class looked upon the other as pariahs. This may have happened in certain circumstances, but not to the extent the film portrayed it.
Costumes, sets and the ship all looked authentic, but without the flesh and blood characters, just not engaging enough to make the four-hour series entertaining.
on October 8, 2015
The only thing this movie has going for it is spectacular special effects. MRS Bunkermeister read A Night to Remember, The Night Lives On and the Official Transcript of the Titanic Investigation and we watched eight "Titanic" movies in a row and then visited a local Titanic museum in September, 2015. This was the last of the movies we watched. The female lead and her boyfriend run off to have illicit sex in the hold of the ship. Two men are searching for her when the ship hits the iceberg and they are killed. The woman is engaged, but is too greedy and weak willed to break off her engagement with a wealthy man she does not love. She was willing to steal from him, taking a valuable jewel; a theft that is blamed on her boyfriend. Later her fiancee and her boyfriend put her in a lifeboat, but she later gives up her seat, leaving the boat to descend to the water with a space that could have been given to another woman had she only refused to get in the boat. Another death on her conscience, if she had one. Once again she meets up with her boyfriend who stays with her to the end and dies a horrible death in the water. She is saved at the last moment and lives to a ripe old age, engaging in a life of narcissism and self indulgence. Her boyfriend was an artist. She kept the stolen jewel, rather than use it to found an art school or provide scholarships for indigent artists in his memory. Eventually, she simply tosses the priceless jewel into the deep Atlantic.