When most people think of Titanic, the movie, they think of the 1997 blockbuster love affair starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet written and directed by James Cameron.
But in truth Titanic was originally a German propaganda film made during World War II. It was commissioned by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels to discredit British capitalism and glorify Germany.
The film opens with news that White Star Line stock is falling. The president and board of White Star believe that Titanic can break the world cruise liner speed record and speculate that this will raise the stock value. They plot to lower the stock price further by selling their own stocks, and then buy the stock back at a lower price just before the news of the record speed is released to the public.
The hero of the film is fictional German First Officer Herr Petersen who begs the cruise line’s rich president to slow down the ship’s speed, but he refuses. The Titanic, as we all know, hits an iceberg and sinks. At the end of the movie, Petersen leaps from the ship’s deck with a little girl in his arms. They are pulled aboard a lifeboat to watch in horror as the Titanic sinks beneath the waves.
The president of the cruise line is saved and goes on trial before the British Maritime Board of Inquiry. The cruise line blames the captain who perished when the ship sank.
I won’t give the ending away, but it involves the same issue presented by the Costa Concordia disaster, is the captain alone at fault or was the sinking due to the greed of the cruise line president and board of directors?
Although a propaganda movie, it was skillfully directed and filmed. It captured perfectly the panic, fear, confusion and impending doom of the cruise passengers. You do not want to watch it if you are a survivor of the Costa Concordia.
The propaganda film was scheduled to be released in early 1943, but the theater was bombed by British planes the night before the premiere. The original director, Herbert Selpin, was opposed to the Nazis. Goebbels arrested him and he was hung in prison with the Nazis labeling his death a "suicide."
With Britain and the USA winning the war in 1945, Goebbels poisoned his 6 children and had a guard shoot him and his wife.
You can watch the original movie on YouTube in 9 segments. It is interesting to see scenes which James Cameron ripped off from the 1943 film while directing his 1997 hit movie.