Titanic movie- some interesting things

Hello all,

I only bring this up because the movie Titanic was on one of those marathon showings on TV the past couple days i watched some of it. I’ve always been interested in Titanic since I was a small kid doing research on just about everything related to it and reading a small book or two on it. Anyways I think the movie is a halfway decent showing of the situation and especially the crews bravery that night, after you leave out the whole overplayed love story its based on of course :D.

Anyways one thing I wondered was about a particular scene showing one of the officers loading a lifeboat with an unruly crowd trying to swamp it. The officer shoots two men that tried to rush the boat in the panic. (In real life this most likely didnt happen based off of some of my own research interest- the movie was just overplaying the fact that the officers were given guns to help control a panic and add more drama to the movie.) Would that officer who shot the men be guilty of murder (unjustified homicide as far as Catholic teaching goes?).

Also I thought it was cool that the movie showed the Catholic priest on board tending to others as the ship sank- true devotion to duty right there. ( this actually happened.)

Hello MtnMan,

There are a few circumstances that must be in place, I think, for a homicide to be considered justifiable:

First, it must be in response to some unjust aggression on the part of the person so killed. This aggression must constitute a serious threat to the life or safety of the person enacting the justifiable homicide, or to the life or safety of a person or persons under his protection.

Second, the will must be in line with that intention: it is not enough for me to shoot and kill someone while defending others; I must do it with the intention of defending others. I cannot kill you in a moment of rage because you are attacking my family; I must act to defend my family.

And third (related to the second), the amount of force used must be no greater than appears to be necessary, to the degree that you can control it. Obviously it would be preferable to incapacitate such a person; but if you attempt to do so and accidentally kill them in the process, you are (probably) blameless.

If I recall the movie right, the person shot was acting aggressively because he and the other lower-class passengers were being forbidden access to lifeboats simply by virtue of their class. Insofar as this is unjust, I think it is legitimate for such a passenger to act aggressively against the officers, who are unjustly restraining them.

Hmmm, GREAT question! Some thoughts on OP & SW85's response:

  1. First, OP is correct -- it PROBABLY didn't happen that way in real life. But if it had occurred, just as the movie depicted, I don't think what the officer did was so out of line as to make him guilty of murder. Some ruminations:

  2. The Titanic was a passenger ship, not a navy warship. The officers were alone, in the middle of the night, with an increasingly unruly mob on their hands. The entire reason guns were given to the officers -- in real life, and I believe in the movie -- was to help keep order in light of the fear of order breaking down and more, not less, deaths. That was ultimately why the passengers were shot - they appeared to be rushing a lifeboat, which could lead to a swamping and more deaths.

  3. SW85 writes, as to the shooting, to make it justified, "it must be in response to some unjust aggression on the part of the person so killed. This aggression must constitute a serious threat to the life or safety of the person enacting the justifiable homicide, or to the life or safety of a person or persons under his protection."

--the passengers as a whole were "under the protection" of the officers charged with keeping order. Rushing a lifeboat certainly jeopardized the loading of the boat, and/or endangered the "women and children first" process which the officer was employing.

  1. SW85 continues, "Second, the will must be in line with that intention: it is not enough for me to shoot and kill someone while defending others; I must do it with the intention of defending others. I cannot kill you in a moment of rage because you are attacking my family; I must act to defend my family."

--We can't really say what happened here, because -- after shooting the passengers -- the officer then blew his own brains out (more on that later).

  1. SW85 adds, "And third (related to the second), the amount of force used must be no greater than appears to be necessary, to the degree that you can control it. Obviously it would be preferable to incapacitate such a person; but if you attempt to do so and accidentally kill them in the process, you are (probably) blameless."

--I don't know if this were present here, too. On the other side of the ship, the mere threat by the second officer -- who waves the crowd back, accompanied by a threat to "shoot down like dogs!" anyone who fails to do so -- is certainly preferable (note: great scene; line delivered chillingly -- and the movie shows that the gun is unloaded, too!)...but the fact remains that the shot passengers appeared to be rushing the boat.

  1. SW85 writes, "If I recall the movie right, the person shot was acting aggressively because he and the other lower-class passengers were being forbidden access to lifeboats simply by virtue of their class. Insofar as this is unjust, I think it is legitimate for such a passenger to act aggressively against the officers, who are unjustly restraining them."

--Hmmm, I didn't get that at all from the movie -- I though the officer was justifiedly restraining men, as he was trying to load women in an organized fashion, and got rushed by several men who disagreed with what he was doing.

  1. Finally, the officer doing the shooting (First Officer Murdoch) was the same officer who'd been on the bridge, "on watch," when the ship hit the iceberg, and he was the officer most directly responsible for driving the ship into the iceberg (we can debate the culpability of the captain, the owner, etc., but the fact remains Murdoch was on watch when the collision occurred). His emotional state -- which surely included extreme guilt -- likely lessened his culpability for shooting the passengers in my opinion. In short, he pobably just wasn't in his right mind. After shooting the passengers in the film, he then blows his own brains out -- not the actions of someone who is thinking rationally.

That film - and the real events depicted therein - offers VERY fertile ground for moral conundrums. For example: The managing partner Bruce Ismay saves his own life, after signing off on the lack of lifeboats. Was that justifyable? Was he morally obligated to give up his lifeboat seat to someone else? If so....was anyone else so obligated? Anyway, those are other threads, sorry.

Hey thanks for the responses so far, you guys brought up some interesting points. I hope more people chime in about my original question about Murdoch's culpability etc!

I've done a fair amount of research on the Titanic and I can tell you that the movie isn't 100% factual and accurate with quite a few things- not that its surprising.

Murdoch most likely never shot anyone and by multiple accounts was a hero in helping as many people as he could, as was most of the other crew, officers, and passengers. The movie unfairly portrays him and many other crew members as being a bit cold hearted, when in actuality like VonDerTann said they had to control an increasingly panicking crowd all alone.

Even the Captain- EJ Smith was shown in the movie as commiting suicide by going down with his ship, when in actuality he was last seen trying to help launch a boat as the ships deck began to go under by the bridge and later struggling in the cold water.

For something new to think about: what do you think about the women/children policy of the boat loading?

Sorry I watched it once and it was so historically wrong I can't stand to watch it again. I won't go into all the errors or misleading plot lines in the film ...it would take far to long. For very light entertainment I found it a bit boring and far too long. There are two other Titanic movies that used to play on tv all the time which I found far more entertaining. It's also fair to note I'm not a Celine Deon fan and cringe when I hear that Titanic song so I may be a bit prejudiced. :rolleyes:

Like most other films of this nature about real human tragedy(e.g The Perfect Storm or United 93) it did make major mistakes and also took artistic liberties with the factual accounts. The biggest mistake of the film is famously that it shows the wheel/ship being turned to Port when the order is given to turn it to starboard. Clearly they made a fundamental mistake there.

As concerning the actions of the officer, he simply snaps under pressure, which, given the circumstances, is understandable. He may or may not have made an error of judgement, but his action is understandable given the circumstances. It's sad that he turns the gun on himself just because he feels the guilt of his "snap judgement". His action may have indeed saved others.

Overall the film's positives outweigh the negatives... I especially love the little moments in the film, such as Rose's brief encounter with the famous drunk chief as they are about to plunge into the icy ocean.

[quote="colliric, post:6, topic:246812"]
Like most other films of this nature about real human tragedy(e.g The Perfect Storm or United 93) it did make major mistakes and also took artistic liberties with the factual accounts. The biggest mistake of the film is famously that it shows the wheel/ship being turned to Port when the order is given to turn it to starboard. Clearly they made a fundamental mistake there.

As concerning the actions of the officer, he simply snaps under pressure, which, given the circumstances, is understandable. He may or may not have made an error of judgement, but his action is understandable given the circumstances. It's sad that he turns the gun on himself just because he feels the guilt of his "snap judgement". His action may have indeed saved others.

Overall the film's positives outweigh the negatives... I especially love the little moments in the film, such as Rose's brief encounter with the famous drunk chief as they are about to plunge into the icy ocean.

[/quote]

The movie is correct on the issue of the direction of the ship's wheel. Cameron would not have made such an obvious blunder. In 1912, rudder control from the wheel was such that one turned the wheel in the direction that you wanted the **rudder **to go - which had the effect of turning the ship in the opposite direction. Feel free to do the research.

I always liked the priest in the movie. That was a good portrayal.

I liked the musicians playing Nearer to thee, my God at the end. Faith and Music. It does not get any better than this.

:thumbsup:

[quote="Mattapoisett64, post:7, topic:246812"]
The movie is correct on the issue of the direction of the ship's wheel. Cameron would not have made such an obvious blunder. In 1912, rudder control from the wheel was such that one turned the wheel in the direction that you wanted the **rudder **to go - which had the effect of turning the ship in the opposite direction. Feel free to do the research.

[/quote]

Problem is, the ship is shown in a longshot veering to the portside(Left, away from the iceberg on the right), even though he's turned the wheel in the "correct direction" for Starboard... Perhaps this was simply a problem with the editing of the film and not noticed by Cameron.

Unless of cause the command to turn the wheel to starboard was in fact to point the rudder towards the starboard direction, and not in fact to send the ship in the starboard direction? Because it is in fact shown turning in the Port direction...

So "turning to starboard" would in fact be a command to turn the ship in the Port direction, if one is refering to how the rudder is to be pointed.

In any case you can understand why audiences would not have understood it, even if the officer turns the wheel in the left direction, angling the rudder to "starboard", the ship is shown in fact veering to the Port direction... so one not knowing the command was to turn the rudder, and not the wheel or the entire ship itself, would think it was a mistake.

Ironically, the ship probably wouldn't have sank if they had hit the iceberg head on instead of attempting to turn away and causing it to rip along the starboard side. Also I've read sources that state that trying to reverse the engines only added to the problem since Titanic could probably turn faster at speed( the rudder was too small for the ship to begin with). At any rate Titanic shouldn't have been going as fast as it was and the crew had their hands full from the moment they realized what was about to happen.

I think I read somewhere that Murdoch's family tried to sue the producers for their unfavorable portrayal of Murdoch, claiming that the shooting incident did not occur as shown in the film and that he did not commit suicide.

I've watched Titanic a couple of times and each time they segued into the "love story" (it's actually the other "L" word, IMO) I couldn't wait for that damn iceberg to show up! The scenes with the priest reciting the prayers for the dying, the Irish mother putting her children to sleep with a story, the elderly Guggenheims laying in bed together waiting for the ship to sink (she refused to get in the boat and leave her husband behind), and of course, the musicians--"Gentlemen, it's been an honor to play with you this evening"--made me cry more than the ridiculous and shallow Jack and Rose romance and were the only parts that made the film watchable!

I'd prefer to watch "A Night to Remember"... no Celine Dion songs!:D

"I'll never let go Jack."

:D

[quote="ForGood, post:12, topic:246812"]
"I'll never let go Jack."

:D

[/quote]

I hate you :p

Ha ha ha ha ha.

LOL, I have long said the same thing. I felt more watching all the side characters meet their demise than watching Leo DiCaprio’s character sink into the abyss.

I still enjoyed the movie, though. But maybe I’m just easily impressed by special effects. :o

The movie portrays the events correctly. Murdoch, the officer who orders “hard-a-starboard,” is giving a tiller order, not a rudder order. Tiller orders were based on sailing ships: “Hard-a-starboard” would have meant to push the tiller starboard, thus turning the rudder to port (and moving the ship to port, or left). Titanic was a steam ship without a tiller, but giving tiller orders was still the practice of the day. So the “hard-a-starboard” order meant to turn the wheel to port, thus turning the rudder to port, thus turning the ship to port. Essentially, the boat will go in the opposite direction of the tiller order.

Also, the priest portrayed in the film was based on an actual priest on board the Titanic, Fr. Thomas Byles. He was seen hearing confessions and granting absolution while the ship was sinking. There’s an interesting little article on him at the Encyclopedia Titanica (encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/fr-byles.html).

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