Titanic was released on December 19, 1997, and went on to become one of the highest grossing films of all time. The film is based on the real life sinking of the British Passenger liner the RMS Titanic, on April 15th, 1912. It’s still regarded as one of the deadliest disasters in history. Roughly 1,500 passengers and crew members died. Director James Cameron had always had a fascination with shipwrecks and was inspired to direct a film based on the Titanic. He’s considered one of the best directors in the world. Before Titanic he had directed several blockbuster films, including: The Terminator, Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Titanic followed two passengers from different social classes that meet and fall in love on the doomed voyage of the RMS Titanic. The film starred Leonardo DiCaprio as the poor but handsome Jack Dawson, and Kate Winslet as the rich and beautiful Rose DeWitt. Titanic helped turn both into major Hollywood stars. The cast of the film also included, Kathy Bates, Billy Zane and Bill Paxton. Titanic is universally praised for its incredible directing, phenomenal acting and tremendous writing. The film was a massive critical and commercial success and became a cultural phenomenon. It won 11 Academy Awards (including Best Picture and Director).
However, despite it being one of the greatest films ever made, it’s not perfect. Even this perfect, gigantic and beautiful film has flaws hidden deep beneath the surface, which is similar to the real life Titanic; luckily for us this film didn’t hit an iceberg and sink. There are several shocking and surprising mistakes that pop up in the film. These are really easy to miss mistakes and errors but a room of scientists spent years re-watching the film to discover these mistakes… okay it wasn’t a room of scientists. Here is a look at 15 Shocking Mistakes In Titanic.
15) Lights, Camera, Reflection
In 2012, Titanic was converted to 3D and re-released in the spring. When James Cameron converted the film he actually noticed several errors and mistakes. However, he chose not to edit any of the scenes and kept each scene as they were originally, when released in 1997. The filming process is a long and gruelling journey and doesn’t end when the cameras stop rolling. Directors sometimes spend hours upon hours in post-production editing their films to perfection. No matter how detailed a director is, they’re bound to miss something from time to time. Titanic is no different. Several minor mistakes occur, such as a boom mic being visible in a shot or the lighting reflecting off of something. Early in the film we get a tour of the Titanic. As we go through the ship, we get a breathtaking depiction of the ship’s interior. At one point the reflection of one camera can be seen in one of the glass doors.
14) Jack Dawson’s Disappearing Suspenders
Moments after the iceberg hit the Titanic, Jack and Rose attempted to warn everyone on the ship about the damage but nobody would listen. Instead, Rose’s fiancé Cal Hockley, played by Billy Zane, has Jack arrested. One of the most pivotal scenes in Titanic comes when Jack has been handcuffed to a pipe and water is quickly filling up the lower deck of the ship. Rose returns to save him with an axe. There are a few mistakes in this scene but one of the most glaring has to do with wardrobe. Jack is wearing a nifty outfit with dirty pants and suspenders. While handcuffed his suspenders are up but moments later, his suspenders are down despite still being handcuffed. Either he freed himself, pulled down his suspends and handcuffed himself back up, or those are pretty magical suspenders. Most likely it was simply a mistake that went unnoticed during the shooting and the editing process.
13) Unknown Object Disappears
This mistake is a little tougher to recognize and it can be a bit confusing. The film’s depiction of the Titanic splitting in half and sinking was widely praised. As the ship fills up with water and begins to sink the music ends and the lights cut off. Everything becomes dark and night is filled with screams and cries for help. Eventually, the ship split in two pieces and sank to the very bottom. In the film, as the Titanic begins to sink an object is visible near the front. It’s very difficult to make the object out but it is clear something is there. Seconds later, the object vanishes as the ship goes deeper into the ocean. It’s very possible that the object was a part of the ship and possibly broke off at some point, however that seems to be unlikely, due to the positioning of the object earlier.
12) Railings That Can Move
One of the most memorable and iconic scenes in cinema history occurred in Titanic. At the point that Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt are growing closer and their love is growing stronger, they stand at one end of the massive ship. At first Rose was weary of Jack but his charm, wit and 1912 hairstyle, are starting to win her over. They stand on the very front and spread their arms like birds in the sky. The love they feel for each other is getting stronger and in order to show it, sometimes a director has to manipulate the set around them. During this iconic moment the railings on the side of the ship change distance rapidly. At one point they’re very close together and then suddenly very wide a part. If that happened on the RMS Titanic, it would have been very frightening. Most likely this was done for shooting purposes or it might have been a simple mistake that went unnoticed.
11) Visible Wires
It’s 1912, on a cold April night. The ship slowly sinks deep into the ocean in complete darkness, which is filled with screams for help. There were only a limited number of lifeboats and not everyone escaped. Some passengers were left on the sinking ship with nowhere to run to. Suddenly, the massive ship beings to split in half. A tear opens up in the middle of the most luxurious passenger liner made. No matter how tightly the passengers held onto the side of the ship, they were pulled deep into the abyss of the Titanic. It was like something was pulling them down there. In the case of the film, something was pulling them down. Towards then end of the film when the music stops and the lights go off, several characters are pulled into a tear into the ship. Clearly visible are long massive wires to help pull the actors into the tear.
10) Breakable Glass Disappears and Reappears
One of the most intense scenes in the film occurs just after the iceberg has hit and the lower decks are filling with water. Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) has orchestrated Jack’s arrest and he’s been handcuffed to a pipe. Instead of boarding a raft with her mother and fiancé, Rose returns to rescue Jack. At this point Rose searches and finds an axe to break him free. Here is when things get a little tricky; the axe is behind glass, which she breaks (because this is clearly a case of emergency). There is a pretty interesting error that occurs. Initially, Rose breaks the glass and it’s all but gone, as she reaches for the axe a split second later the glass has reappeared as she pulls the axe out. It’s either a technical error that was simply over looked or it’s magical reappearing breakable glass. Maybe the Titanic should have been made of that; on second thought, maybe not.
9) The Perfectly Vertical Lifeboat
When the RMS Titanic took sail on its doomed voyage, many had said that it was the best passenger liner ever built. It was said that there were several controversial decisions made in terms of safety. In order to free up space it’s been reported that there were fewer emergency lifeboats in case of disaster. There were 20 lifeboats, which could carry 1,178 people in total, but there were 2,224 passengers and crewmembers on board. The film depicts this as well and when chaos erupts, everyone is trying to squeeze into the lifeboats. The film was praised for its depictions of the sinking and it’s very understandable that a minor mistake might slip by. As the ship sinks and goes on a slant, one of the lifeboats hanging from the side remains perfectly vertical and doesn’t slant with the rest of the massive Titanic. Apparently, the lifeboat had no plans of going down with the ship.
8) Foam Instead of Metal
The RMS Titanic was built for the White Star Line. At the time, they were facing fierce competition from several different rivals, such as, Hamburg America, Norddeutscher Lolyd and Cunard. Belfast Shipbuilders Harold and Wolff were brought in to construct the Titanic. The focus on the ship was on luxury, comfort and size. The ship was equipped with the best technology and passenger facilities that were available. The goal was to give the passengers the feeling of being in a floating hotel. However, all the metal and steel were unable to keep the ship together as an iceberg hit it. The movie ship on the other hand seems to have been built out of something different. In the end of the film, as the ship fills with water in darkness and death seems like the only option, many cling to the Titanic in hopes of surviving. As the ship splits in two halves, several characters are grabbing onto objects and the ship for dear life. In the film, one of the characters grabs onto a metal capstan but it bends inward, proving that it’s in fact foam and not metal.
7) The Mysterious Black Lace
It’s clear early on in the film that Rose is restless with the life she’s been living and the one she’s going to marry into. She’s feeling trapped by her mother and even more trapped with her husband-to-be, Cal. She’s reached her breaking point. She can’t take it anymore. She decides that the only option is to end her own life. She runs to one end of the Titanic. She stands on the ledge about jump into the ocean, when a charming and handsome stranger approaches her. It’s the first time she and Jack really talk to each other. He is able to convince her not to jump because there is a lot to look forward to. The scene is full of high intensity, comedy and romance. It also includes a minor but nagging mistake. While Rose is gripping the railing she has a black lace on her hand, which is presumably from the stunning dress she is wearing. The lace appears and disappear from shot to shot.
6) The Axe and The Hand
The Titanic has hit the iceberg; freezing cold water rushes in, filling up the lower decks. Many of the poor drown or freeze to death. Jack and Rose attempted to warn everyone but instead, Jack was arrested and handcuffed to a pipe. The water is filling up faster and faster. He has no way to escape. Suddenly, Rose shows up to save him instead of trying to escape and save herself. She finds an axe and rushes back to him. She lifts the axe high above her head with the handcuffs in her sight. Jack warns her not miss and cut off his hand. She swings the axe and CHOP! She accidentally cuts off Jacks hand! Okay, that never happened in the film, she just frees him with his hand intact. However, upon closer inspection, it’s clear that in the scene she is clearly hitting Jack’s wrist. It’s obviously a minor mistake that went unnoticed.
5) Jack’s Hair Has A Mind Of It’s Own
Jack Dawson was poor, street smart and tough. Despite his social class he was very handsome and charming. Plus, he could draw naked women amazingly, which was a really handy skill to have back in 1912. Jack was an adventurer; a risk taker and most importantly, followed his heart. Everything changes for Jack when he falls in love with Rose aboard the doomed voyage of the RMS Titanic. However, what seemed most magical about Jack was actually his hair. Leonardo DiCaprio played Jack Dawson and received critical acclaim for his performance. By the time Titanic was released, Leo was already a star on the rise, but Titanic helped push him to the top. In the film, Jack’s hair seems to have a mind of its own. In one scene, while talking with Cal, Jack’s hair manages to untuck itself back behind his ear. Also when Jack goes to ask Rose to dance, he has the “I don’t put much effort into my hair” messy thing going, and less than a second later it’s slicked back like a character from Goodfellas.
4) Is There Room For Two?
Jack and Rose’s love is so strong that they overcome many obstacles, such as her mother, being from a different class, and Rose’s fiancé. There is nothing that can keep them apart, not even the Titanic splitting in half can separate them. Now, the ship is further down in the deep ocean. Rose and Jack drift in the ice-cold ocean in the middle of April. They float on a piece of wood but it keeps sinking with both of them on it. Like a true gentlemen, Jack gets off the piece of wood so that Rose can remain on it. She doesn’t want him to but he insists that everything is going to be okay. However, the conditions are too much for Jack and he joins the Titanic at the bottom of the ocean. It’s one of the most debated endings to any film in cinema. Mythbusters did a piece on the ending showing that the piece of wood that both Jack and Rose were floating on appeared to be big enough for the both of them. James Cameron debunked this theory and pointed out that the piece of wood may have been big enough for both, but it’s more of case of “buoyancy”.
3) Rose’s Beauty Mark
Rose Dewitt was the pretty daughter from a rich family. She was engaged to Caledon Nathan “Cal” Hockley, played by Billy Zane, a snob from the rich part of town. However, Rose wants more from life than just getting married and raising kids at home. She meets Jack and her whole life turns upside down, literally. Kate Winslet was universally praised for her role as Rose. She was nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars that year. This was her big breakout role and helped turn her into a major film star. There is a really easy-to-miss, but pretty big error revolving around Rose DeWitt and her beauty mark. When we first see the beautiful and innocent Rose as she boards the Titanic, her beauty mark is clearly visible on the left side of her face. Later on in the film, her beauty mark switches sides to the right side of her face.
2) The Final Song
This mistake is more of a historical error as opposed to a technical error. One of the most famous scenes in the movie features the orchestra band that performed on the Titanic. Wallace Hartley led the band and all members went down with the ship. In the film, as the ship is sinking, the band begins to play in an attempt to uplift the sprits of the passengers. The song they play is a hymn, “Nearer My God To Thee”. It’s true that the band played as the ship sank but it’s not known which song was actually played. “Nearer My God To Thee” was reported in the papers after the accident, but since then there has been much debate. The Titanic’s wireless operator Harold Bride, reported that it was a different song and that the band’s final song was actually “Autumn”. Regardless, the scene remains one of the most memorable in the film.
1) Wrong Stars In The Sky
At the end of the film, both Jack and Rose end up drifting on a piece of wood in the freezing cold ocean. The two lovers have done everything in their power to be together despite being from different classes. When Jack freezes to death and Rose watches her greatest love sink with the Titanic, Rose is laying on a piece of wood floating in the ocean looking up at the stars in the sky. It’s one of the most iconic and hard to watch scenes in any film. However, there is a mistake in this scene and it wasn’t some online blog or article that pointed out this mistake. It was a world-renowned scientist. Neil deGrasse Tyson is a cosmologist, author and astrophysicist. He noticed a mistake with the star field in the film and wrote an email to James Cameron pointing it out. He noted that at that location in the Atlantic, time of day and year, that Rose would not have seen the star field which was depicted in the original release. Cameron made the change of the star field for the 3D re-release, but it was the only mistake that he discovered which he changed.