ince the discovery of the Titanic 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland in 1985, a spate of revisionist histories have been published which criticize the Titanic’s Captain E.J. Smith and his crew for executing the order “women and children first.” Numerous books have been written which minimize the bold sacrifice of the men. Some even mock those who attempt to draw broader meaning or spiritual lessons from the tragedy. A few appear to deliberately reinterpret events in such a manner that all references to faith and God are removed. Still other authors have revised the story of the Titanic to accommodate neo-Marxian class warfare theory: rich vs. poor. These approaches miss the mark. The true story is far more complex, more tragic, and more beautiful.
This week Hollywood honors the latest and greatest tribute to the most famous maritime disaster in history. James Cameron’s film Titanic is an emotionally charged, technological, and cinematic masterpiece that perpetuates some of these revisionist theories. Cameron goes to painstaking lengths to ensure technical accuracy when it comes to carpet designs and woodworkings, but he utterly fails to present the story in a way that communicates the deeper, spiritual significance of the tragedy.
In Cameron’s Titanic, the rich seek to bribe their way to freedom, the poor are deliberately prevented from reaching safety, and the nobility of Christian sacrifice is minimized, ignored, and at times ridiculed. With minor exceptions, the true story of Titanic has been carefully sanitized to remove any partiality to the patriarchal doctrine of “women and children first.” Thus, the real tragedy of this film is that by creating such a compelling, evocative, but politically correct vision of the past, Cameron may have immunized an entire generation from ever learning the true lessons of the Titanic at a time when they are most desperately needed.
Note: James Cameron’s Titanic is rated PG-13. It is unacceptable for family viewing because it contains brief nudity, swearing, and it glorifies youth rebellion and fornication. Parents who are interested in watching a more accurate, wholesome, and uplifting account of the Titanic are directed to the 1957 film A Night to Remember.
Doug Phillips is the president of CBMTS
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