Sunday, April 15, 2012

Voyagers of the Titanic ~ Part II

Having had a chance to see 'TITANIC' the movie again after 15 years, and in stunning 3-D, I was happily surprised to recognize so many familiar and talented faces aside from the main cast which included Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, and Kathy Bates as the indomitable Molly Brown. Some of them I knew the first time around, but the others didn't hit me until this viewing. The 3-D is truly amazing and it brings out all the intricate details of the ship and costumes. It really is a beautifully filmed movie that captures the essence and opulence of what the Titanic once had.

I enjoyed Victor Garber's performance as the sympathetic Chief Engineer Thomas Andrews. In a touching scene he tells Rose and Jack to save themselves while he stays with the ship. Just as it starts to go down he adjusts the mantle clock to the exact time on his pocket watch. It was like a final symbolic disappointment. His grand, 'unsinkable' ship is sinking fast and not even the clocks are timed right. Nothing worked out as planned.

I also recognized handsome Ioan Gruffudd as brave 5th Titanic Officer, Harold Lowe. He compassionately turns his lifeboat around to try and find survivors. (He is the only who does) He makes the grim discovery of frozen bodies and sadly utters, 'We waited too long." But they do save Rose in the process thanks to her determined will to stay alive and blow the whistle. In the real history, only 5 other men were saved from the frigid water.

There was also Frances Fisher as Rose's snobbish mother Ruth, Gloria Stewart as old Rose, Bill Paxton, Suzy Amis, Jonathan Hyde as the infamous Bruce Ismay, David Warner as Hockley's villainous servant, and Mark Lindsay Chapman among many others. The casting was above par in 'TITANIC' and everyone resembled their real-life counterparts.

I have to say Voyagers! Did a great job casting Hugh Riley as Captain Edward Smith, years later when Bernard Hill played the role in the Movie, he resembled and even acted just like Riley.

Bernard Hill from 'TITANIC'

Hugh Riley from 'Voyagers of the Titanic'

 And of course the real Captain!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is rightly baffled over all these disappearing and reappearing Voyagers. 

For Voyagers! fans it was a big treat to see Michael Ensign aka, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 'Jack's Back'! He had a very brief but pivotal role as Benjamin Guggenheim. I think he had one of the best lines in the movie. He's coming down the grand stairway wondering what all the hullabaloo is about, and the crew is trying to give him a life jacket. He calmly refuses and says,

"No, thank you. We are dressed in our best and are prepared to go down as gentlemen. But, we would like a brandy."

According to the true history recorded at Encyclopedia Titanica:

After the collision, Bedroom Steward Henry Samuel Etches helped Mr Guggenheim to fit his lifebelt. Ignoring his protestations; "This will hurt", Etches finally managed to get the mining and smelting tycoon into the lifebelt, he then made him put on a thick sweater and sent him up to the Boat Deck. Despite Etches best efforts Guggenheim soon returned to his room (B-84) and changed into his finest evening wear, his valet, Mr Giglio did likewise. He was later heard to remark 'We've dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.'

One of his final acts was to write the following message: 'If anything should happen to me, tell my wife I've done my best in doing my duty.'
Mr Guggenheim, Mr Giglio and Mr Pernot were all lost in the sinking.

Mr. Guggenheim's final terrified moments watching the water stream through the dining hall.

 I considered yet another similarity between 'TITANIC' and 'Voyagers of the Titanic.' When Rose is going down in a lifeboat, she jumps off and makes the sacrifice to be with Jack and she bravely rushes to his rescue in the hull when he is handcuffed to the pipes. In similar fashion, Voyager Olivia Dunn makes a sacrifice of giving Jeffrey Bogg's omni and putting him in a lifeboat, and she runs back down to the steam room area to help Bogg retrieve the Mona Lisa and her stolen omni from Haggerty.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Voyagers Of the Titanic!

This month is the centennial, or 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the R.M.S. TITANIC on April 15th, 1912. There are countless tributes, articles, blog posts, and events being presented everywhere this month. It's no surprise that director James Cameron has re-released his 1997 masterpiece film, 'TITANIC' in stunning 3-D to coincide with the week. I'm even buckling down to see it on Saturday. Admittedly, Titanic is not my favorite film, but it's filled with moments that are simply amazing and terrifying. I view it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to see it on an IMAX screen in 3D!

A few years ago I made a wallpaper featuring Jon-Erik Hexum in the pivotal 'Jack Dawson' role alongside Rose. I usually do those for fun and as a kind of 'What if?' for characters I would have loved to see Jon-Erik play. It's admittedly not my greatest wallpaper, but it has a certain charm.

An astute Voyagers! fan wrote to me earlier today and listed some keen observations they made between the movie 'TITANIC' and the episode, 'Voyagers of the Titanic.' When I thought about them, I realized how close the two actually are. I thought it would be cool to share the in the blog post.

1. Molly Brown urges the scruffy Bogg to "put on a jacket...and a tie"....14 years later in TITANIC, Molly Brown makes the same suggestion to Jack Dawson--but in this case, she actually provides the tuxedo (it belonged to her son). And of course, now that Bogg/Jack is dressed "respectably", he was no trouble mingling with the upper class passengers...(something that would have been impossible if he hadn't changed clothes).

2. The scenes of Bogg and Olivia fighting to survive in the bowels of the ship (and battling the evil Haggerty) as the Titanic sinks are more than a little similar to Jack and Rose's battle to survive as the ship sinks (and as they battle the evil Hockley).

3. Haggerty and Hockley...the names both start with 'H'.

4. It's worth noting that both Bogg and Jack wear "torn" tuxedos as they battle to survive.

5. In VOYAGERS!, Haggerty is desperate to keep the stolen Mona Lisa, while in TITANIC, Hockley is desperate the keep the "stolen" Rose (who has her picture drawn by Jack). Not quite a "like" comparison, but worth noting, I suppose.

*Also of note is the movie's preoccupation with art all around. Jack Dawson was a sketch artist, Rose loved modern art and collected original Picassos (Who was hardly famous at the time as Hockley complains about her taste in artists. Good thing he got the ugly things cheap!) And as we know, the Voyager episode revolves around finding the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa.

*A mention by another observant fan in the comments below: Hockley from 'TITANIC' is also desperate to find the Heart of the Ocean jewel - it's obvious he's searching for Rose at the end more to find the jewel that he remembers he left in the pocket of his overcoat, which he gave to Rose. Granted, the jewel wasn't stolen, but it was a high-value object, as was the Mona Lisa painting.

7. In Voyagers! there is a scene of the musicians sadly but bravely playing to ease the fears of the people before the ship goes down and the camera closes up on each of their faces as they play 'Nearer my God to thee.' In 'TITANIC' there is a heart wrenching scene that shows each musician pick up their instrument and start to play for the people too–which leads into the chaos.

8. At the beginning of Old Rose's dream sequence in 'TITANIC' you see a black and white picture of Rose dressed in a bomber jacket with a scarf and goggles standing beside an airplane. in Voyagers! Olivia Dunne wore a bomber jacket too (without the goggles) hinting at her pilot past before becoming a Voyager!

9. And a last little observation, but certainly not least: Jon-Erik Hexum was called "Jack" by his close friends and family...."Jack" Hexum = Jack Dawson?

Of course, it's anyone's guess whether James Cameron viewed this episode of VOYAGERS!, but there are definitely some (admittedly minor) similarities if one chooses to look for them.

*I would like to think that yes, James Cameron did view this episode. Why not? In making his movie I wouldn't be surprised if he told his assistants to get him every last scrap of media there was available on the Titanic at that time. Voyagers! would have definitely been on that list. He and his team of writers could have watched and compared, taken notes and gotten ideas all around. Cameron's exhaustive research of the Titanic shows in the final film. –V.G.

If you have anymore observations about the episode and movie you'd like to add, please post in the comments below. It's very interesting!

Watch a lovely Tribute to Voyagers Of the Titanic created by BlueCanvas2 on Youtube