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A Night to Remember

Year: 1958
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Like most people, I saw this after the stupendous success of Titanic, and for such an old movie it was really good.

The producers likewise researched the real personalities thoroughly and presented the incidents of that night according to eyewitness accounts (it makes you wonder how much James Cameron relied on this film when he made his version over 80 years after the event). You can't help wondering if it helps you know the characters such as White, Ismay, Andrews and Astor having seen the newer version, or if the baggage from it colours your view of them, but it definitely helps you identify them. It even had some of the same lines as Cameron's 1997 magnum opus, apparently immortalised into the history books.

One aspect that was notably absent from Titanic was the fact that there was actually a lot of sea traffic in the area that night, including a ship that actually saw their distress flares in the distance. The aspect I found the most effective about Titanic was the feeling of the ship being stranded and going down in the middle of nowhere, without another living soul for thousands of miles around to help them. It was made terrifying evident by the long shot from miles above the ship in the middle of the dark, its flare pathetically tiny sparks on the endless ocean. Turns out it was untrue, but fact is stranger than fiction.

It essentially told the same story with similar points of view, but without the three hour romantic backdrop set-up Titanic had. It told it just as effectively, with just as much fear and emotion, and for 1958, quite good effects. It should be essential viewing for a more documentary viewpoint than Cameron offered.

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