James Cameron’s epic movie Titanic won a bunch of awards and was the first film to gross one billion dollars. At the time, it was also the most expensive movie ever made with a budget of around $200 million. The movie is a retelling of the nautical disaster through the eyes of one of the survivors. Of course, it’s not all fact-based mayhem. One of the main story lines is a fictitious love story. A diverse cast of characters really ramps up the drama with some of these characters being based on real people while others were purely fictional. There are both likeable and despicable characters and there is both triumph and tragedy along with heroism and cowardice.
Cameron and his crew did a lot of research and they went all out to build a scale model of the famous ocean liner. They even reproduced near-exact sets based on photographs and the ship’s original design. While Cameron aimed for perfection, a project of such magnitude is bound to have a few flaws. As in many other great films, there is a host of minor issues such as physical appearances inexplicably changing, minor anachronisms, and other trivial gaffes. There are also a few major slips that didn’t get picked up by the editing team. Here are 15 humongous fails of the movie Titanic.
15 Ice Under Jack’s Nose
When asked why Jack didn’t save himself by climbing onto the floating piece of debris with Rose near the movie’s end, James Cameron acknowledged the fact that there was room for doomed young man. However, he also explained that it was a matter of buoyancy. Maybe Cameron could also explain why ice crystals that had formed under Jack’s nose disappeared and reappeared? One scene clearly showed that Jack had ice under his nose. The camera focused on Rose for a few seconds before cutting back to Jack and we see that the ice was no longer there. We might assume that he simply wiped it off when the camera was on Rose but that theory goes out the window when the camera pans back to Jack and the ice has reappeared.
14 Lake Wissota
When Jack comes across Rose as she is contemplating suicide by jumping off the ship, he is able to talk her out of doing so. Good work Jack!! If Rose jumped then the plot would have been shot and the film would not have run for over three hours. He tells the distressed damsel about his days back home. In particular, Jack recounts how he went ice fishing on Lake Wissota in Wisconsin where he was from. It was a nice story but it would not have been possible for him to have gone ice fishing on that lake. Sure, the lake is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and offers some excellent fishing. The problem is that Lake Wissota is a man-made lake that was created in 1917 when the Wissota Hydroelectric Dam was built. How could he have been there prior to 1912?
13 Rose’s Beauty Mark
Now, this little blunder wasn’t so grievous as to ruin the movie or anything like that but it is still just one of those details that one would expect to have been caught. When we first see Rose standing on the dock at Southampton and looking up at the mighty vessel, there is a small beauty mark on the left side of her face above and to the side of her luscious lips. Fast forward through the rest of the movie and we see that the mark is now on the opposite side of her face. Any explanations? One possibility might be that the beauty mark could have been knocked over to the other side of the starlet’s face when Billy Zane’s character, Caledon Hockley, slapped his fiance on the left side of her face.
12 Flimsy Capstan
A capstan is a contraption that rotates with the purpose of, in the Titanic’s case, tightening mooring lines. There were a few on the Titanic that were used to keep the lines tight and the ship firmly attached to the dock. The rope is wrapped around the capstan and the crew rotates it like a giant spool-like ratchet. This photo is of one of the actual capstans from the Titanic. It is a solid piece of steel that offers absolutely no give. If you watch the scene in Titanic where it is sinking, you will see bodies flying around the deck and one of these bodies slams into a capstan. If you look closely, you will see that this capstan is made of foam and wrinkles up when the stuntman makes contact.
11 His Hands Were Already Bloody
When Rose discovered Jack handcuffed to the piping as the Titanic was taking on water, she desperately tried to find someone to help her save him. She went scurrying off down the hallways and ran into this guy, one of the ship’s stewards who was on his way to the upper decks. Rose’s pleas for help fell on deaf ears as the steward was preoccupied with getting Rose out of the danger zone and up to the safety of a lifeboat. He grabbed onto Rose but the determined young lady finally had enough and punched the shocked steward in the nose. It may make you laugh the next time you watch this scene because the guy already had blood on his hands when he covered his face and smeared the fake blood on his nose and lips. Fail!
10 Beer Goes Flat Awfully Fast
One humongous fail in the movie Titanic happens when Jack and Rose were attending the 3rd-class party. Jack got a couple of pints of beer and gave one of them to Rose. She was all smiles as she took the beer and started to gulp it down. You might have noticed that when Jack gave her the beer, it had a head on it. Not a big foamy one but a head nonetheless. When Rose started to drink the beer the head had vanished. There wasn’t even a trace of foam on her upper lip. We couldn’t expect the 3rd-class beer to be all that great but there’s no way the head would have dissipated so quickly and left no trace on Rose’s lips. Even Jack looked a little surprised by it. It definitely wasn’t Guinness beer.
9 Hard To Port!!
In nautical terms, port refers to the left side of a ship and starboard refers to the right side. In the scene where the Titanic has just collided with the iceberg, there is a lot of panic and confusion but the first officer and the wheel man really got their signals crossed. Right after the collision, several crew members were rightfully terrified as the ship began to shake. First officer William Murdoch saw the danger and barked out an order to the helmsman. “Hard to port” he shouted while emphatically pointing to the starboard side. OK, this could conceivably be one of those things where we are seeing him from the back of the ship and he’s actually pointing toward the port side. However, the guy at the wheel definitely turned the ship’s wheel hard to the right, or starboard side.
8 Rose Saves Jack
The tensions were high when Rose found Jack handcuffed to steel pipes as the Titanic was taking on water. The cold Atlantic water was up to Jack’s knees and rising fast. A quick-thinking Rose got an ax and was able to free Jack by chopping the cuffs in half. Quite a feat. Too bad there are a couple things wrong with the execution of this scene. For starters, Jack is wearing suspenders when Rose finds him. When Rose swings the ax, his suspenders have mysteriously vanished. Then there is the issue of how Jack survived the rescue without losing his left hand. Still shots reveal that Rose’s aim wasn’t exactly as precise as we thought. The ax nails Jack on the wrist. Oh well. It’s not like anyone’s going to notice. Right?
7 The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Margaret Brown was a pretty rich American woman who was traveling through Egypt in 1912. She got news that her grandson was seriously ill so she wanted to get back to the United States as soon as possible. The fastest way happened to be taking the Titanic on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. She was portrayed in the movie by Kathy Bates and, as you probably know, she was one of the lucky survivors. During the film, she is referred to as “Molly” on a couple of occasions. Most of us actually refer to her as Molly Brown and probably didn’t even know her real name was Margaret. The funny thing is that she was never called Molly during her lifetime. It was a nickname given to her after her death in 1932.
6 Lanterns Of The Lifeboats
Near the end of this epic film, lifeboats cruise around the debris field in search of survivors. You can see a few shots in which lanterns and other lights are used to help with the search. Seems perfectly legit. However, this was not the case during the actual event. There were no lanterns on the lifeboats and rescuers were forced to conduct their search in the cold darkness. James Cameron is fully aware of this but he still showed rescuers with lanterns despite the historical inaccuracy. Why? It’s actually quite simple. Cameron needed to have the rescuers carry lanterns so that the shots had proper lighting. He obviously knew about this mistake but he likely had no idea that the flashlights that are used throughout the movie weren’t around in 1912.
5 Is Jack A Time Traveler?
The Santa Monica Pier is actually two piers with the first opening in 1909. The Municipal Pier was originally built for practical purposes and had no amenities. The Pleasure Pier was added in 1916 and housed an amusement park which featured a merry-go-round and a roller coaster among other things. There are a few fan theories out there that revolve around Jack Dawson being a time traveler and one of the humongous fails of the movie Titanic further support this theory. In one scene, Jack tells Rose that they will ride the roller coaster at the Santa Monica Pier until they throw up. As we just learned, the amusement park didn’t open until 1916. So how exactly can this be? Maybe Jack was a time traveler after all?
4 Locked In Steerage
James Cameron’s Titanic contained a few inconsequential historical inaccuracies but one thing really added to a myth that has been widely believed for the past 100 years. In the movie, those poor third-class passengers were pretty much all doomed when they were locked in the lower level of the massive ship as it went down. A British inquiry into the ship’s sinking actually found no evidence of malicious intent on the part of the crew to obstruct the third-class passengers. Initially, some of the passages were briefly blocked while crew awaited instructions but they were opened up. One of the biggest blunders on the part of White Star Line was that they had no lifeboats on the third-class deck. The inquiry concluded that the allegations of steerage passengers being locked in were false.
3 The Early Morning Sky
By the time James Cameron re-released Titanic as Titanic in 3D in 2012, he was more than likely aware of several of the inaccuracies in the film but he didn’t bother to correct them. That is, except for a few shots near the end of the flick that showed Rose’s view of the early morning sky. While almost the entire audience watched as Rose blew her whistle and was finally rescued Officer Lowe in Lifeboat 14, there was one guy who focused on something else entirely. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson noticed that the pattern of the stars in the background was nothing like it should been in the North Atlantic at 4:20 AM on April 15th, 1912. What a nerd!! He sent Cameron the corrected arrangement and the proper layout of the stars was edited into the 3D re-release.
2 The Vanishing Crowd
The movie shows a huge crowd of people gathered at Southampton dock where the Titanic was being loaded and boarded. People were waving friends and loved ones off while others were just taking in the scenery. Hundreds, if not thousands of people were there. Meanwhile, Jack and Fabrizio were in the pub playing poker with two Swedes. As the camera pans around the table, we can clearly see the dock area with the Titanic sitting in the background. The one thing that’s missing is the crowd of people. The area is pretty much deserted except for a couple of passers-by. Did everyone suddenly go home? No. Moments later we are taken back into the bustling crowd that has somehow reappeared in the dock area. This is another one of the humongous fails of the movie Titanic.
1 Murdoch The Heel
It seems that James Cameron really had it for First Officer William Murdoch. While a certain degree of artistic license is perfectly fine in order to create a good story, Cameron really dragged Murdoch through the mud. Throughout the movie, Murdoch is portrayed as an unscrupulous coward. He accepted a bribe from Cal Hockley. He then shot a couple of passengers before finally shooting himself. He came across as a real heel despite several witnesses claiming he acted like a hero. Surviving relatives of Murdoch were incensed over this depiction. There is no evidence to support the claim that he accepted any bribe and there is no proof that he killed himself although witnesses and historians have said that one of the officers, perhaps Captain Smith, did commit suicide. Murdoch’s body was never recovered so we will likely never know. Studio execs went to the besmirched crew member’s hometown to formally apologize. They also donated $8,500 to Murdoch’s memorial fund.