We all know how the story goes. The largest ship ever built hits an iceberg and sinks on its maiden voyage. However, over the course of a century since that strange April night, the tragedy of the Titanic has been interpreted in many different ways on the screen.
Titanic film adaptations started with Saved from the Titanic which premiered less than a month after the disaster. The 1912 film starred Dorothy Gibson, an actress who survived the wreck, and who was dressed in the same clothes that she had worn during the sinking. Ever since, there have been countless adaptations of the Titanic story, ranging from Nazi propaganda to Hollywood melodrama. To help you to sort through all of these screen stories, here are Cinema Observer's recommendations for essential viewing related to the Titanic disaster.
Titanic: Blood and Steel (2012 TV Series)
This television series sheds a light on a different aspect of the Titanic story, focusing on events surrounding the ship's construction in Belfast, Ireland. It is often taken for granted how the ship was built by human hands and the craftsmanship that it took to design and construct such a vessel. There is also great drama at the center of the series, that focuses around the main characters struggle balancing his Catholic beliefs while working for his Protestant financiers. The show is free both on Netflix and on Amazon Prime.
One of the two Oscar-winners on this list, this film is the least accurate of all major Titanic films, including, but not limited to, the ship going down in one piece and the boilers exploding. However, the character story is very strong with the combined talents of Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb. If you are looking for a good drama in this list, this film is right up there with James Cameron's 1997 Oscar-winner.
Titanic (1996 TV Movie)
Overshadowed by Cameron's film and the fact that it was a made-for-television movie, this film is surprisingly accurate to history and is the first screen adaptation of the story to show the ship breaking in half (a fact that was discovered when the wreck was found in 1985). Catherine Zeta-Jones and George C. Scott turn in solid performances. It is also one of the only films to show a side of the story that is not shown in Cameron's version: that there was a ship 15 miles away from the disaster and watched as the Titanic sank.
A Night to Remember (1958)
The historian's Titanic film. Based on the best-selling book by Walter Lord, this is the most historically-accurate Titanic film to this day. While the sets are not true to the actual ship, the narrative was crafted relying completely on first-hand accounts by survivors and others involved with the disaster. As a result, no fictional characters are shown in the movie. The film's main character Second Officer Charles Lightoller, the highest-ranking surviving officer of the Titanic, is exceptionally played by Kenneth More.
The wildly-successful film won 11 Academy Awards and is famous for its love story between Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio). However, for Titanic purists, this film stands out from the rest in terms of establishing the feel of the 1912 period and painstaking detail to the interior and exterior of the ship itself. While it is not the most historically accurate Titanic film ever produced, its massive success at the box office as well as the Oscars warrants this top spot on our list.