Thursday, April 18, 2013

Titanic - Voices from the Disaster - Review by Nick Petersen

Move over Dicaprio. It's time for a different part of the story.

I never liked the movie Titanic. I thought it was a dumb concept. There's no suprise to the plot, because we learned the ending in history class. I also didn't think the movie payed adequate attention to the issues of class that were in the story of the Titanic, although too much of this would have made a documentary rather than
an an emotional romance. I didn't care for the movie, but I liked this book. This isn't the story of Jack and Rose, this is a merger of several accounts from real survivors from different backgrounds. The book has a friendly, easy to read format that I think would cater to middle school readers quite well, and includes lots of pictures and documents that give a fresh remix to the usual biographic format of these types of books.

I do think that it's a book that would intrique young readers, but I do think that it would be difficult to find a place in the curriculum for it. While the Titanic was a terrible event and it did bring up some questions about the social order, I think the big drawback of teaching this book in class would be the focus on the emotional content rather than the logical, learnable content. You can't make too many arguments based on the Titanic, or personal interpretations of the vents, which could make the process even more difficult for young readers.

some media links to consider would be the movie directed by James Cameron:

and more academic sources, such as these documentaries, one from A&E and one from the history channel, both availbale on youtube:

Saving the Titanic is a film about the engineers and workmen in the bowels of the ship who worked so hard to save it, and the people on board. It can be seen on the PBS website:

And as an interesting bit of modern news, the class can examine the project of Titanic 2. It's not a movie, it's a real ship. It's intended to be completed and launched in 2016.


Renee Thornton said...

Well I actually loved the film version of Titanic. But I can understand your point that it romanticized the class distinctions more than it drew accurate attention to them as films are wont to do. It sounds like this is a good source of accurate historical information presented with an emotional hook. I love a good history story if its well written so I'm definitely interested in reading this one.

Jasmine Fells said...

I never read the book but I really enjoyed the movie. I think the book may bore me a bit but then again it may not. Your review about the book is good. Sometimes I think that if I have already watched the movie, then there is no point in reading the book. Then again the book sometimes are a little different from the film. Overall you did a great review of Titanic

Henry Buckner said...

We know that many people have seen the movie Titanic. It is like every time I hear the word Titanic I automatically think of Leonardo Dicaprio, which is funny when you think about it. I'm sure that is most women's first thought as well. Anyway like you said the Titanic is much more than a romantic episode, it's an actual ship with a serious story behind it. Although it might be hard to get students to read this book, because they've probably seen the movie a thousand times, I believe it is a story worth reading. You get to dive into the perspectives of real survivors, see the different class distinctions, and become more informed about this event that changed lives forever. I give it a thumbs up!

Leslie Shambo said...

My third grade teacher can tell you I was fairly obsessed with the Titanic disaster as an eight-year-old, and read nearly every book I could get my hands on (and there are some great ones for students, including my then favorite, "A Night to Remember" by Walter Lord). I don't automatically think of the James Cameron's movie when I hear the word Titanic, but I do think of the victims every time I complain about how cold it is in Chicago - I always remind myself that it would have been much worse to have been floating the water, hoping to be picked up by a lifeboat. Perhaps I am still a bit Titanic-obsessed.

My parents took my brother and I to a wonderful Titanic traveling exhibit in Florida many years ago, in which we could walk through a rooms designed to look like the originals. I remember the even had a room created in the style of the ship's deck, in which you could look at the stars as they would have appeared on April 14, 1912. I am hoping to go to a similar exhibit in Las Vegas sometime this year. While none of the exhibits are currently in Illinois, it might be worthwhile to take a look at some of their individual web sites, as they continue lesson plans for teachers. You can read more at:

maria rendon said...
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maria rendon said...

At some point in my life, it was one of my favorite films, but i grew tire of it as i got older and learn the real facts of Titanic. Thought I never read this book, I could tell by you review, that is going to be an interesting read for my summer.