James Cameron's Final Word is an interesting film in which a number of notable historians and experts get together and piece together what exactly happened in Titanic's final moments. The results were fascinating, even though I disagree with one or two points. One heated debate is the angle of the ship during the break up. Well they found out that the Titanic couldn't have been more than 23 degrees in the air before breaking. That puts a bullet near the heart of the theory that the Titanic was at a 45 degree angle which some survivors said it was at. The survivors aren't unanimous and in fact are all over the place regarding the angle of the ship when she broke up which makes it quite confusing. It also went through what happened after she disappeared beneath the waves and how certain pieces got into the places and positions that they are today at the bottom. The only thing I disagreed with was that it came to almost a 90 degree angle at the very end. I think more of the ship was out of the water because some of the survivors said it became almost perpendicular and then slid beneath the waves, settling back as she went. Cameron also came out with an interesting and I think very likely theory as to what happened in the break up, explaining the pieces of double bottom found far from the wreck. Cameron's opinion seemed at times to be the only one that mattered and unless people came up with undeniable evidence, their opinions as to what happened seemed to be bunk. All in all however, it was excellent and enjoyable until the end when James Cameron ruined it for me by going off on his class warfare, Marxist, global warming beliefs using the Titanic as an example. If he'd kept that out, I would've given it 4 out of 5 stars. I give it 3 stars out of 5.
Here's the final conclusion to the film:
Monday, June 4, 2012
It is a popular thing in movies about the Titanic to show the poor 3rd class passengers trapped behind locked gates while 1st and 2nd class passengers make their way to the lifeboats. However, testimonies and observations of the blueprints as well as the wreck itself prove otherwise. The only gates we know of that would hinder 3rd class passengers from getting up to the Boat Deck were waist high at the top of stairs. One was towards the bow and one was towards the stern. We know for a fact that the one towards the bow was locked and the stewards attempted to keep the Steerage passengers down because of Daniel Buckley's testimony but they eventually were able to get through. Another thing that may have prevented Steerage from reaching the Boat Deck was error on the part of the crew. Lightoller was afraid the boats would buckle and split and so he intended to lower the boats into the sea partially full and then fill them up when they were in the water from the gangway doors. He in fact sent men down to open the gangway doors. The passengers got wind of it and waited to board in the lower decks. For several reasons this never happened and valuable time and seats were lost. What mainly killed the Steerage passengers was the enormity of the ship. They had 2.40 hours to to get to the Boat Deck from the lower decks of a 9 story sinking ship with an increasing tilt, panicking passengers, and rising water. They had less than that actually because at first they were told to wait for orders. Most didn't reach the Boat Deck until either the last lifeboats were about to be launched or it was too late. The plight of 3rd class is not as well understood because their stories were not as valuable to the inquiries and press as the 1st and 2nd class passengers were. Lightoller said what caused so many deaths in 3rd class was because they were forgotten. I think that's absolutely true. On the Boat Deck it was "Women and Children First" but below the decks it was survival of the fittest. The officers mainly cared about loading and lowering the lifeboats and Captain Smith was focused on getting rescue ships to come. The only parts of the crew that actually thought about getting the 3rd class passengers (some of whom couldn't even read the signs because of their being from different countries) were the 3rd class stewards. Several bravely went down to the lower decks of the sinking Titanic, guiding them up to the Boat Deck and then going back down for more.