Raise the Titanic!

So this happened

So this happened

If you have not discovered The Head That Launched A Thousand Books I suggest you go there now, it is certainly far more worthwhile than reading this review. Unless of course you’re considering actually watching Raise the Titanic! in which case, do please read on and realise your folly.

My recent post regarding films about the Titanic omitted this monstrosity sterling piece of film making, something which a fellow blogger at above blog (seriously check it out!) has asked me to rectify.

The wreck of the Titanic was not found until 1985 despite numerous attempts to discover it since 1912. The novel Raise the Titanic! was released in 1976, the film in 1980 both before the wreck had been identified. The conditions of the wreck were unknown, as it would be physically impossible to raise any part of the ship, as it lies now. Even though the last survivors off the Titanic claimed to have seen it split, it was agreed that the ship had sank intact. Indeed, even after discovering the wreck which lies in two large parts, research has shown that the Titanic did not break above the surface. Those nearest to it were probably aware of the break beneath the water, but until the wreck was found it was accepted that the ship was intact, hence why somebody thought it was at least theoretically possible that it could have been raised.

'Jack' Thayer was one of the last survivors to jump from the ship. He later described the ship's fate to an artist. His claims that the ship had split were widely disputed and unpopular.

‘Jack’ Thayer was one of the last survivors to jump from the ship. He later described the ship’s fate to an artist. His claims that the ship had split were widely disputed and unpopular.

Plot

The American government has developed technology which can stop oncoming Soviet missiles. Unfortunately the only power source which can sustain this technology is a mineral that can only be found in Russia (the irony division helped in the design). Upon reaching said mine, an American agent discovers that the mineral is gone and instead he finds a deceased American agent complete with a newspaper from 1912, before the Soviets give chase.

It develops that another American had loaded the mineral in question (byzanium) onto the Titanic. A sailor from the Titanic admits that during the sinking he had locked the American into the hold containing the byzanium, his last words being ‘thank God for Southby’, words that are considered meaningless (fools!). With the sailor’s help the wreck of the Titanic is located and the team immediately sets about to …well…raise the Titanic. After some mishaps the wreck is indeed raised and delivered to New York, finally reaching it’s destination albeit somewhat later than planned. The storage hold is opened and, the body of the agent is found inside, but *dramatic fanfare* no minerals.

Turns out ‘thank God for Southby’ is pivotal, and before leaving Britain the agent had the mineral buried in a grave in the town of Southby. After discovering the location of the byzanium the team decide, that actually, in order to preserve the peace between America and the USSR they are going to leave it where it is.

'So why did we travel all the way to the grave itself before deciding we're wasting our time?' 'Shut up man.'

‘So why did we travel all the way to the grave itself before deciding we’re wasting our time?’
‘Shut up man.’

Conclusions

It’s not a good film. Not at all.

The idea that a government would develop technology that they have no way of powering and would then abandon the single power source available to them, after spending millions on the technology itself and the raising of a long sunk ship, is of course ludicrous. They raise the Titanic from the depths of the ocean at great cost, but when it actually comes to excavating what they’re looking for, they decide not to for the sake of diplomatic relations. Even though they’ve already developed the technology designed to antagonise another country. Shortly before the end of the film one of the characters announces that actually the whole undertaking was pointless and everyone is generally agreed that the entire premise is a bad idea and they have all wasted their time. Which isn’t usually what I expect from a film.

The acting is alright, but the screenplay is awful. The film’s only flaw is the story, unfortunately that’s a pretty terrible flaw to have. The actual raising of the Titanic is neat, but hardly worth the trauma of actually watching the film.

The film had a budget of 40 million dollars, mostly because they massively overspent on finding a ship to act as the Titanic. At box office the film saw a return of 7 million. The owner of the production studio famously remarked that, ‘it would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic,’ and the author of the book Raise the Titanic! was so appalled by the result, he refused to allow any of his works be adapted for film again. Just in case you weren’t convinced it was really that bad.

Next you'll be telling us that the water stresses over 70+ years at depths hitherto unexplored would have rendered the hull structurally unsound...like a chump

Next you’ll be telling us that the water stresses over 70+ years at depths hitherto unexplored would have rendered the hull structurally unsound…like a chump

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5 comments

  1. sonetka

    Oh wow — if this isn’t Rifftrax material, I don’t know what is! I presume the alternative ending shows the Russian agents who were, naturally, tailing our heroes every step of the way, digging up the Byzanium themselves and fleeing back to Moscow with it :). So do you ever get to see the raised Titanic’s interior or did their budget not run to that?

    • Probably, only to find that they have no use for the damned thing lol!
      You don’t get to see a great deal of it, you see some as they obviously move through the ship to find their mineral bags of gravel, it’s all very structurally sound considering how long it’s been under water. Mostly it’s just rusted iron, sort of looks like a construction site!

  2. Traveler

    The Clive Cussler Dirk Pitt novel was good. But if you work in the Merchant Marines all sea stories are great.
    Remake History??? Ask professor Bob Ballard.
    By the way, your Blog is funnily…

    • Huh, never been called funny before.. Thanks? 🙂 And ‘remaking history’ refers to the way in which historical fiction can perpetuate certain myths and stories within a factual setting until they become part of the history itself. You’ll find more people will think Captain Smith was going irresponsibly fast because James Cameron made a film about it, than the position of cluster ice and the environmental conditions on the night.

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