'Titanic' Was More Historically Accurate Than You May Realize

by Amy Roberts
20th Century Fox

No matter how many times fans have seen the movie, the question of how accurate Titanic really is always hangs over everything. At over three hours in length, Titanic is a juggernaut that blends historical fact with fiction. But at what point do the facts about the Titanic tragedy start blurring against the fiction of Jack and Rose's tragic love story? Well, it's worth noting that director James Cameron is notorious for his perfectionism, and, as a result, Titanic is fairly accurate by Hollywood standards.

That's likely because of the fact that Cameron, a self-proclaimed Titanic obsessive, did a lot of research in preparation for the movie. As he told Eye For Film in 2009:

"I created an extremely detailed timeline of the ship’s few days and a very detailed timeline of the last night of its life. And I worked within that to write the script, and I got some historical experts to analyze what I’d written and comment on it, and I adjusted it."

So, while there are a lot of things that Titanic got wrong about the actual tragedy, it's clear that Titanic also got a lot right about it too. The following five points are clear examples of moments that prove the movie's accuracy in reflecting how the tragedy actually happened and in taking influence from real life events and using them to imbue Titanic's fictional narrative with some real emotions.


One Of The Funniest Lines In The Movie Actually Happened During The Tragedy

Jack and Rose were told that they'd have to "pay for" the door they broke down as it was "White Star Line property," and, unbelievably, a real life Titanic steward may have made the same complaint to a passenger after the ship had hit the iceberg. Professional tennis player Richard Williams was on the Titanic with his father when they came across a steward struggling to pry open a cabin door. According to Sporting News, Williams rammed the door with his shoulder, freeing the trapped passenger from inside. However, instead of thanking Williams for his help, the steward told him that he was going to report Williams for destroying White Star Line property instead.


The Band Did Continue Playing As The Ship Sank

Seeing the band continue to play in a bid to raise spirits is the one of the most touching moments of Titanic's final sequences. It adds to the emotional depth of some harrowing scenes, but also the band did actually keep playing as the Titanic sank. According to Steve Turner, the author of The Band That Played On: The Extraordinary Story Of The 8 Musicians Who Went Down With The Titanic, the band weren't employees of the White Star Line, but of a Liverpool Music Agency led by devout Christian violinist Wallace Hartley. In discussing why he thought Hartley made the decision to play as the ship was sinking, Turner said in an article for Fox News, "He believed that music could prevent panic and create calm."


Neil deGrasse Tyson Helped To Make The Movie Accurate For The 3D Re-Release

Only deGrasse Tyson could get away with finding fault with the accuracy of a star field in a movie. In an interview with Discovery regarding deGrasse Tyson's contribution to the Titanic re-release, Cameron said:

"Neil deGrasse Tyson sent me quite a snarky e-mail saying that, at that time of year, in that position in the Atlantic in 1912, when Rose (Kate Winslet) is lying on the piece of driftwood and staring up at the stars, that is not the star field she would have seen. And with my reputation as a perfectionist, I should have known that and I should have put the right star field in. So I said ‘All right, send me the right stars for that exact time and I'll put it in the movie.’"

So, if you happened to catch the 3D re-release of the movie, then you can now rest easy in knowing that the night sky was totally accurate in it.


Shards Of The Iceberg Genuinely Did Fall Onto The Titanic's Decking

It made for one of the most dramatic moments in the movie, and it would be understandable to think that it was there just for the cinematic image that it conjured up. However, according to Jay Henry Mowbray’s Sinking Of The Titanic: Eyewitness Accounts, a passenger by the name of Helen Churchill Candee experienced these shards of ice for herself. Following the Titanic hitting the iceberg, Candee said, “The first thing I recall was one of the crew appearing with pieces of ice in his hands. He said he had gathered them from the bow of the boat.” Which, to be honest, is absolutely terrifying to imagine.


There Was A Tragic Romance Revolving Around A Woman With A Sapphire Necklace

It wasn't anything like the Heart of the Ocean, but there was a sapphire on board the Titanic, and it came with a heartbreaking story attached. According to Scientific American, the sapphire was worn by Kate Florence Phillips, a 19-year-old who planned to elope with Henry Samuel Morley, a married man who was 20 years her senior and who gifted her the necklace to symbolize their shining future together. While Kate survived the sinking ship, Henry unfortunately didn't and was reported as having drowned due to the lack of lifeboats available.

Obviously, Titanic had a lot of really great historical detail in it which, as these prove, are actually well-researched and totally accurate.