By MORENIKE TAIRE
In April this year, a 100 years after the original Titanic sailed and sank, the Irish station from which it sailed has had another boat built. A party went out on the boat to the spot where the original Titanic sank, in honour of those who died.
In December of 1997 , the film,Titanic hit movie screens across the globe, launching the careers of movie stars Leonardo di Capprio and Kate Winslet. Directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by . James Cameron and funded by production giants Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox, it was, at the time, most expensive film ever made, with an estimated budget of $200 million.
It was, then, the budget and not the story that drove fans in droves to the cinemas. What sort of film- they wanted to know, would require that kind of money?
At the end of the day, it was the story and not the budget that made Titanic into the greatest story ever told on the big screen, pulling more emotional response than any other last century but Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ.
It was a love story in the league of Gone with the Wind, and more so, since the ultimate price was paid. It is unforgettable, not only for the biographical factor (producers tie the movie’s story to the account of the heroine, who had kept the dark secret bound to her bosom for more than seven decades), but for the killing combination of love, pain, joy, hatred. evil, good, suspense, glamour, coincidence and of course, tragedy.
Like in Romeo and Juliet, undying, unflinching love was the central theme, and of course, death; but unlike the Shakespearean story, the death was unplanned, though really inevitable. It can be conjectured that the hero, who is simply known as Jack, no last name, was to have been killed one way or the other, being an underclass and getting- as he so very blatantly did- the affections of the intended of one of a higher class.
A pinch of controversy made the story even more intriguing. The rumour mill went, and had it that the builders of the ship the Titanic, Harland and Wolff of Belfast, Ireland, had boasted that even God could not sink the ship. Even with no record of such a thing being sent and continued denials from Ireland, this remains the prevailing notion.
Perhaps it is a way of explaining so grave a tragedy where no other explanation would have sufficed, except for the sheer carelessness of the whole paraphernalia, proven this time by the recorded fact that the Titanic, when it sailed in 1912, was unprepared for disaster. It is on record that despite carrying a maximum capacity of over 3200 passengers and crew the ship was only equipped with 16 lifeboats and a handful of life rafts. In total only one third of all those aboard could have fitted into the life saving measures.
All these ingredients, naturally, aroused interest in the history. Other stories have been written since the 1997 film exploring other perspectives, digging up other characters, some with happy endings or not so tragic ones. Not surprising, really. With anything between 1600 and 2,400 people on board the ship and 75% perishing, there are thousands of individual stories to tell.
The more popular was the one with Jack and (better known as Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet respectively) who, despite their disparagingly distant backgrounds, meet in the middle of the Atlantic and fall desperately in love.
She was engaged, as it were, to be married to one of her kind and though she was only 17, her mind was made up about her intended beau. She did not want him, and would die, actually, rather than have him.
It was on the mission to do this that she met the boy and entered the epic relationship that was to become the stuff of legend and history. She went as far as giving herself to him, before tragedy struck and when it was clear that the Titanic was going to sink, Jack was bent on getting them both saved.
The most cynical of individuals would agree that what existed between the two was true love, because it was proved over and over. When it mattered most, the English Rose abandoned her kind, and risked her life first to save her love.
She had made her mind up regardless, to take her own life than spend a lifetime with a man she not only did not love but quite despised. Still, she put herself in harm’s way for the sake of love, and so did her lover. One of them paid the ultimate price, while the other blossomed by the secret for almost eight decades. Then the story was told.
In April this year, a 100 years after the original Titanic sailed and sank, the Irish station from which it sailed has had another boat built. A party went out on the boat to the spot where the original Titanic sank, in honour of those who died. MS Balmoral’s passengers conducted a memorial service in Tribute to the dearly departed.
“Although it happened 100 years ago the grief is still so very raw for so many people,” says Reverend Huw Mosford, who led the service. Wreaths were thrown into the sea, and relatives of victims came together.
A million and one lessons were learned from the story, as many as the different stories told. Still, the outstanding lesson is the one that true love never dies. Or does it?