Like so many people worldwide, we will be remembering the 100th anniversary of the Titanic.
The fateful voyage of the ship considered unsinkable began with much fanfare on Wednesday, April 10th, 1912. After a few days on the open ocean, the Titanic collided with an iceberg just before midnight on Sunday, April 14th, 1912. Rapidly taking on water, she went under in the middle of the night on Monday, April 15th, 1912. Its Captain, Edward Smith, and designer, Thomas Andrews, went down with her. About 1,500 people perished that night with the Titanic. All basic facts which the nation of Titanic folklorists are already familiar with.
Titanic was always an object of fascination for so many for so long. This massive luxurious ship was a place we all wished to visit, a stately playground of elegance and sophistication where days upon days could be lost in its imagination. All the wonderment and majesty the beginning of the century offered. Rose’s dream at the end of the movie Titanic shows her exhilaration still at this ship she only inhabited for a scant few days, culminated with meeting her true love at the fabled clock on the stairs. How many of us wish we could just wander down the magnificent staircase, then glance up at the beautiful dome, all before gracing the elegant dining room. This was the magic of Disney fairytales before they even existed.
But all of it was dashed by the hubris of man. We as a civilization had created the perfect vessel, the one thing the Universe could not destroy or defile. An element as basic as frozen water made our collective folly known. Simple lesson, never learned. The Stock Market Crash of 1929, the Kennedy Assassination, and the Challenger Disaster, all showed us that no matter how invincible we feel, how we consider the Universe under our control, it isn’t. Many factors, including the lack of binoculars, contributed to the Titanic’s demise. Many factors also helped cause those other tragedies, all after the Titanic. The principal aspect behind them was man’s massive ego. The story of our own downfalls, created also by us, is the other enticing half of this tale.
At the point after the sinking, Titanic the great ship entered mythdom among the populace of the world. The remains went unfound for decades and decades, entering a realm of mysteries. Explorer Robert Ballard was originally just another in a long line of adventurers trying to solve the riddle of the wreck. But by luck and happenstance, Ballard managed to discover Titanic’s remains in 1985. We have all seen the footage since then, the eerie visuals of the decomposing grandeur slowly evaporating from existence. Titanic will unfortunately nought last to its 200th anniversary, sometime within this coming century this former wonder will cease to be. It will only inhabit our unified consciousness, much like the fabled Library of Alexandria.
Helping keep the memory alive and part of our fabric are all the books, movies, and television shows dramatizing the story. By far the most famous is the 1997 classic Titanic, a long majestic journey bringing history to our senses. What Titanic meant to us was epitomized in the love story of Rose and Jack, played by Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. We all so loved this epic that it became one of the top movies of all time. Netting eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture of the year and Best Director for James Cameron. We recently viewed the 3D rerelease and it truly brings another dimension to this tale of history. Heartily recommended to all who wish to honour the anniversary.
One hundred years ago tonight Titanic met its destiny. The ship that could not sink will always hold a special place in our hearts and in world history. Tonight is a night to mourn the loss of life, to celebrate the triumph of her creation, and to learn from our arrogance.
Sleep well, Titanic. You have earned it.
P.S. To listen to an excellent podcast about the Titanic, it’s history, impact, and this anniversary, click here for a direct download. It is also available through itunes under the podcast title “Two True Freaks.”