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Titanic is one of the most successful and beloved movies in film history, but there is something James Cameron regrets about the blockbuster.
In a recent National Geographic special Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron, the director revealed that he felt the recreation of the real-life Titanic’s 1912 tragic sinking was only “sort of half right.” James Cameron is so committed to ensuring the accuracy of his movie, a number of tests were conducted on model versions, using computer simulations by the U.S. Navy.
“The film Titanic depicts what we believed was an accurate portrayal of the ship’s last hours. We showed it sinking bow-first, lifting the stern high in the air, before its massive weight broke the vessel in two,” Cameron said in the special.
“Over the past 20 years, I’ve been trying to figure out if we got that right,” he added.
1,500 people died when the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage between Southampton, England and New York City in 1912 after the ship struck an iceberg. The 1997 film starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and won 11 of the 14 Oscars it was nominated for.
Cameron’s years-long quest to perfectly recreate the Titanic’s sinking does not overlook the that “what happened there was a real tragedy,” the Canadian director revealed in the special.
“It happened to real people, and it still resonates down through time in this very powerful way,” the director noted.
The One Mistake James Cameron Regrets In Titanic
Although, the Oscar-nominated director has revealed over the years a number of things he doesn’t like about the way he recreated the tragedy. Among the big inaccuracies in the movie is the way the Titanic sank, which James Cameron now admits would have been impossible.
“I have no way of saying that is in fact what happened, but I’d like to be able to rule it in as a possibility ’cause then I don’t have to remake the freaking film!” Cameron joked.
He also revealed that the blockbuster’s “dramatic image” of Titanic‘s stern sinking into the ocean was “as accurate as I could make it at the time.”
James Cameron Ran Tests To Ensure Titanic Was Accurate
James Cameron ran numerous tests with a model version of the ship to ensure the sinking would be accurate on film. The director’s team sank a model ship in a water tank by using rigging and pyrotechnics devices alongside the Navy’s computer simulations to determine that the ship would have snapped in two after spouting 23 degrees out of the water.
“We found out you can have the stern sink vertically and you can have the stern fall back with a big splash, but you can’t have both,” Cameron explained in the National Geographic documentary. “So the film is wrong on one point or the other — I tend to think it’s wrong on the ‘fall back of the stern’ because of what we see at the bow of the wreck.”
“I think we can rule in the possibility of a vertical stern sinking, and I think we can rule out the possibility of it both falling back and then going vertical,” the True Lies director added. “We were sort of half right in the movie.”
James Cameron Thinks This Scene Is The Reason His Film Is So Loved
Although neither part of the sinking would have been inaccurate by itself, combining these two different sinking components is almost impossible in real life. Cameron admits these dramatic scenes are probably why Titanic is one of the biggest-selling movies of all time.
James Cameron revealed the one scene which may have been responsible for hooking viewers during opening weekend. “I remember that we ALL agreed on one thing — that the long shot of Rose and Jack clinging to each other as the vertical stern of the ship plunges down shrieking and groaning, with bodies falling hundreds of feet down toward churning water, was a slam dunk.”
“I think that shot alone got our opening weekend audience,” he boldly stated.
Domestically, the theatrical release of Titanic earned over $600 million. Adding revenue from 2012, 2017 and 2023 reissues, Titanic has earned a worldwide total of $2.257 billion.
Would James Cameron Change Titanic, 25 Years Later?
Ultimately, James Cameron has said that he “wouldn’t change a frame” of the 1997 film.
The 68-year-old director explained that throughout his 40-year career, he had learned not to “second guess yourself” and that, given the opportunity he would “probably make the same damn movie now”.
When asked whether he would change anything about Titanic, he responded with “Why would I change a frame?”
“We got 14 Academy Award nominations. We got 11 wins, we made more money than any movie in history. We continue to make a lot of money with it,” The Terminator director explained.
Upon the 25 anniversary of Titanic, he was reflective of his long career in the film industry. “I don’t think I’m any smarter now than I was then, (in fact) I’ve probably lost a few brain cells since then.”
He imparted some of the wisdom he has learnt from working in the industry: “I think I’ve learned over the years, artistically, don’t second guess yourself.”
“That’s a snapshot of who you were and what you thought and believed at that time. And what I find out looking back across all my films, and there aren’t that many. I haven’t changed that much.”
“I still believe the same stuff I believed back then. If somebody were to, you know, plonk the book about Titanic on my desk and say ‘make that into a movie’, I’d probably make the same damn movie now that I made back then.”