The Titanic set sail from Southhampton, England, on April 10, 1912, an emblem of modernity. The ship – the largest moving object in the world – was 46,000 tons of luxury and technological ingenuity. Four days later, the “unsinkable” vessel struck an iceberg. The fate of the Titanic has captured popular imagination for the last century. Here’s a look at the story on film and television:
April 10, 1912
Titanic departs Southhampton in its maiden voyage amid fanfare and news coverage. Aboard the ship are about 2,200 passengers and crew, including American millionaires, Golden Age tycoons, artists, men of letters and tourists and emigrants from all parts of the globe.
April 15, 1912
After striking an iceberg that leaves a 300-foot gash in the hull of the “unsinkable” passenger ship, the Titanic splits apart and falls to the ocean floor. In all, 1,522 of the 2,200 people aboard perish.
May 14, 1912
Among the Titanic survivors is 22-year-old silent film actress Dorothy Gibson. Within a month of the tragedy, her paramour, Jules Brulatour — a pioneer of silent film — releases “Saved From the Titanic.” The one-reel film features Gibson in a fictionalized version of her ordeal — costumed in the white evening dress, long sweater, gloves and a pair of black pumps in which she actually abandoned ship. No known copies of the film exist.
“In Nacht und Eis,” a 30-minute silent film, is made in Berlin just two months after the famed ocean liner sank. It is directed by a man named Mime Misu. The film is long-believed lost until Horst Lange, a retired film archivist, comes forward in 1998 with a copy he had purchased in the 1970s.
Jan. 1, 1943
The Nazis cast the sinking of the Titanic as a failure on the part of the British. Written in German at the end: “The deaths of 1,500 people remain unatoned for … an internal condemnation of Britain’s quest for profit.” The propaganda film ends up being shelved at the time of its 1943 completion.
Jean Negulesco’s version of “Titanic,” starring Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck, premieres. A Times review calls the film’s technical realism a “triumph.” Webb and Stanwyck play fictional characters, an estranged couple returning home, but the story is based on inquiry records of the disaster.
Jan. 1, 1958
Made with what The Times reviewer calls “documentary realism,” the film directed by Roy Baker features more than 180 speaking roles. It is considered the definitive work on the disaster until James Cameron’s blockbuster is released decades later.
Debbie Reynolds stars in the film adaption of the popular stage musical. Reynolds earns an Oscar nomination for her role as Titanic survivor Molly Brown, whose husband had struck it rich in the gold mines of Colorado two decades before the fateful voyage.
The wreck of the liner Titanic is found by a joint U.S-French expedition off Canada in waters more than 13,000 feet deep. In an announcement from the government-run French Institute for Research and Exploitation of the Sea, explorers said that the wreck, about 370 miles south of Newfoundland, was positively identified by the French-made SAR submarine sonar system and American-made ARGO underwater cameras.
A&E, a cable television network, airs the documentary “Titanic.” The four-video boxed set, released on video, sells fewer than 60,000 copies. A re-release four years later, after the record-setting James Cameron film came out, quickly becomes A&E’s biggest-selling title ever.
Dec. 19, 1997
Clocking in at 3 hours and 14 minutes and costing $200 million to make, James Cameron’s “Titanic” premieres. Times film critic Kenneth Turan credits the epic’s production, noting the movie uses a 775-foot, 90% scale model of the doomed ship and sinks it in a 17-million-gallon tank. But he knocks the script. The film goes on to earn nearly $2 billion and 11 Oscars.
This Fox television documentary looks at the real-life events of the Titanic’s doomed voyage. Features include interviews with director James Cameron and the stars of his blockbuster movie — produced by the company’s film division — Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. It airs the same month “Titanic” ties the record for most Oscar nominations ever.
James Cameron’s $13-million digital, 3-D documentary “Ghosts of the Abyss” is released in Imax and other theaters. The one-hour film exploring Titanic’s rusting ruins marks the director’s first step into 3-D moviemaking.
April 3, 2012
“Titanic” returns to theaters in 3-D, in the U.S. and more than 100 other countries. In re-releasing his romantic disaster epic, James Cameron is courting a broad audience of nostalgia-driven adults, fans who were too young to see “Titanic” on the big screen the first time around and moviegoers in countries such as China and Russia, where theaters were few and far between during the film’s initial run.
Among the various television shows planned to run around the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking: Julian Fellowes’ ABC miniseries “Titanic,” PBS’ “Saving the Titanic” and a James Cameron National Geographic special.