Reviewer: Charity Bishop
It's been a hundred years since the mighty White Star Liner sank to the
bottom of the sea in a freak collision with an iceberg on its maiden voyage. One
of the most fascinating of history's mysteries, the RMS Titanic has
fascinated readers ever since. With so many self-proclaimed "experts" on the
sinking, it is therefore unfortunate that most filmmakers choose to do little or
no research, making their productions laughable in their melodramatic
presentation of events.
Just days before Titanic is due to set sail amidst great fanfare,
emotionally conflicted Alice Cleaver (Felicity Waterman) seeks a new
position with a wealthy family. Extremely close-mouthed about her past
but with good references, she is given charge of their two children, a
little girl and a baby boy still in nappies. Plagued with nightmares and
guilt over the death of her own child, Alice is disconcerted about their
sailing. The night before the ship is due to depart, pickpocket and
general thief Jamie Perse (Mike Doyle) steals a third-class ticket. His
shenanigans are taken note of by Simon Doonan (Tim Curry), an officer on
board. Also a thief, Simon convinces Jamie that together they can rob
the first class blind and escape into New York undetected. But Jamie is
sidetracked by the presence of the beautiful and demure Christian girl,
Bess (Harley Jane Kozak).
Among the first class passengers is Isabella Paradine (Catherine
Zeta-Jones), mourning the recent loss of her aunt and returning home to
her wealthy husband and daughter. She is horrified to learn that former
lover and successful businessman Wynn Park (Peter Gallagher) is on
board. While she attempts to evade temptation, the ship sails toward its
destiny with a host of now-famous individuals on board. Molly Brown. Mr.
and Mrs. Astor. Captain Smith. Charles Lightoller. The film would have
been lovely had it paid more attention to the true facts. For anyone who
has studied the ship, the errors are glaringly obvious. Some of them
were duplicated in the Cameron film that came out a few months later,
such as Murdoch killing himself, and the gates between classes being
locked. Others are simple mistakes, such as the weather at any given
time or the events that transpired in first class. Once again, the
depiction of Charles Lightoller is excessively harsh, Bruce Ismay is
turned into a careless monster, Captain Smith gives up too soon, and in
one of the film's most ridiculous scenes, the officers stand around
blaming one another for what happened.
Even forgiving these faults, the miniseries is interesting and does at
times have a reasonable plot. Much of it is contrived and forced, but
the performances are generally good and one does become attached to the
characters. I did appreciate much about the film, such as its
glimpse into the events that transpired on other ships during the
distress signals (particularly the Carpathia) but the film
foundered in its depiction of the officers. Both an entertaining and interesting take on the events that have transfixed
audiences for generations, Hallmark's miniseries must not be taken as
historical fact, but is nevertheless thought-provoking, for it shows us once
more, profoundly, that pride cometh before a fall.
adulterous affair (kissing,
caressing, and a sexual scene in her stateroom, with
the typical "morning after" shot). A girl is
brutally and graphically raped.
None other than disaster-related aspects.