14 April, 2012

Nearer My God To Thee

15th April 1912 - 15th April 2012

I'm sure most people will be aware of the significance of these dates, one of course being tomorrow's date, however, for those unsure they mark the anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

For me, like many people, I was first made aware of the Titanic after the 1997 film. Since then I have wanted to know more and more about the "unsinkable ship". Instead of citing facts and figures about the event, I've decided to compile some bits and bobs that I've found of interest regarding the Titanic, let me know if you've found them interesting too :)

With this year being the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic's maiden voyage, and sinking, there has been an awful lot in the media about the ship. Two TV programmes in particular that I have found interesting are Titanic with Len Goodman and ITV's drama adaptation Titanic. The former is a three part documentary discussing the untold stories of Titanic: the building beforehand in Belfast, the massive loss of life from the city of Southampton, and the countless other people, both heroic and cowardly, who make up the rich story that is Titanic's sinking. The ITV four part drama was a lot harder to get into, partly because of it's similarity to the James Cameron film, partly because of its structure. Unlike the 1997 film, the TV drama shows the different stories of characters on board the ship, with the sinking taking place at the end of each episode. Personally, I thought this was an interesting way to tell the story, after all we're aware of how it will end, so it's a bit different showing different perspectives and how they all cross over. Unfortunately the budget is nowhere near as impressive as Cameron's film and at times the series suffers because of it.

To coincide with the 100 year anniversary there has been a re-release of Titanic (1997), also showing in 3D. Watching the film 15 years after its original release was a really interesting experience for me; as an 8 year old I found the story exciting and compelling, however, as a 23 year old I was so much more moved by the real life background the fictional plot is set upon. Watching the film in 3D was incredible, seeing the real life Titanic, from the submersible's camera, appearing out of the darkness was breath-taking and I implore anyone who hasn't seen the film in 3D to go as soon as possible :)

As well as the different media interpretations of the Titanic story there's also some really interesting exhibits to visit. I recently visited the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool, just around the corner from the White Star Line offices on James Street. I didn't think I'd find maritime history, aside from the Titanic exhibits, particularly interesting but it's well worth a visit. Also close to my heart is Beacon Park, in my home town of Lichfield, home to a large bronze statue of Capt. Smith of the Titanic.

Finally, BBC Radio 2 are broadcasting a minute-by-minute account of the sinking, starting at 23:30, just before the berg struck, this evening. The BBC's blurb: The story is set to a soundtrack of live music reflecting the band of musicians who valiantly played on until they were silenced by the water. As the Titanic sank it was to a surreal soundtrack of popular songs. While the boats were lowered Alexander's Ragtime Band echoed around the decks and over the water. Because the ship's engines had stopped, and the night was so still, the music could be heard over a mile away. This was surely one of the most poignant musical performances in history. Now, Radio 2 offers a completely new take on one of the most infamous disasters in history, using the music of the ship's orchestra as a framework around which to build a powerful narrative which takes the audience through the events of the night, minute by minute.

Hopefully it will be a fitting tribute to the disaster, listen live here from 11:30pm.

Newspaper boy Ned Parfett sells copies of the Evening News in London on 16th April telling of the Titanic disaster. Source: Getty Images

Title: The now famous piece of music that Titanic's band were said to have played in the moments before the ship foundered. Shown in Cameron's film here:


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