What is the mystique of the Titanic?
It's been 60 years since the film A Night to Remember was released, a film which explored the survivors accounts of what really happened on the Titanic after she struck the iceberg. The film was based on a brilliant book by Walter Lord, whom we pay tribute to in this blog. I'd like to share an excerpt from the eloquent introduction he wrote 20 years ago to another great book, The Discovery of the Titanic. Both books were vital for me while writing the script for our Murder Mystery event: Murder on the Titanic!
"What is the mystique of the Titanic? Is it the sheer immensity of the disaster - the largest ship in the world, proclaimed unsinkable, going down on her maiden voyage with appalling loss of life? Is it the element of Greek tragedy running through the story - if only she had heeded the warnings; if only there had been enough lifeboats; if only... if only. Is it the built-in sermon, the irresistible reminder that "pride goeth before a fall"? Or is it because she so eloquently symbolizes the end of the Edwardian era, a final nostalgic glimpse of a whole way of life?
Certainly all these elements are present, but somehow they are not enough. Recently, I received word that A Night to Remember, a small book I wrote about the Titanic more than 30 years ago, is about to have a Bulgarian edition. Surely there can't be many Bulgars interested in the end of the Edwardian era.
No, the appeal must be more universal, and the thought occurs that the Titanic is the perfect example of something we can all relate to: the progression of almost any tragedy in our lives from initial disbelief to growing uneasiness to final, total awareness. We are all familiar with this sequence, and we watch it unfold again and again on the Titanic - always in slow-motion.
There is the initial refusal to believe that anything serious is wrong - card games continuing in the smoking room; playful soccer matches on deck with chunks of ice broken from the berg. The the gradual dawning that there is real danger - the growing tilt of the deck, the rockets going off. And finally, the realisation that the end is at-hand, with no apparent escape. Entranced, we watch how various people react: the Strauses embracing, the band playing, the engineers keeping the lights going. We wonder what we would do."
WALTER LORD 1919 - 2002