Titanic (2012) ITV mini-series

If you have lived in a cave for the past fifteen years, you might never have heard of the Titanic. According to some recent tweeting activity, some people out there just found out the Titanic actually existed (see scary proof below).
For the centennial of the tragic event however, you got the chance to catch up on what happened then. From James Cameron’s new 3D release of his classic, to TV retrospectives and documentaries, I believe most of us now have a global or thorough knowledge of the drama. As E.C.’s numbers are here to prove in yesterday’s news, James Cameron new 3D release is a success, and if he was ever short on cash, he should now be able to go on many other dives to the bottom of the ocean.
From March 25th to April 15th, British Channel ITV1 released a mini-series in four episodes written by the man of the moment: Julian Fellowes – better known for having written the critically acclaimed Downton Abbey.
Remember how the first episode of Downton Abbey started with Lord Robert Crawley reading the newspaper and discovering with fright that the heir to his estate was aboard the Titanic? Julian Fellowes seemed like the current obvious choice for the British industry to complete such an ambitious project.
As both a Downton Abbey and James Cameron fan, it was with some delight mixed with apprehension that I started watching the «new adaptation» of the event. And even though James Cameron does not hold the rights to the tragedy, I did feel like I was betraying the 1997 version as I started watching the first episode of the 2012 series.
«How can this top or even come close to the movie?», I thought. Well, it doesn’t.
But that’s not the point. The production means are not the same, and the format is not the same. James Cameron’s original version was cut down to 3h14 of romance, ice smelling and horrific deaths. And so he did brilliantly in terms of structure and rhythm. On the whole, Julian Fellowes’ version only has 45 mins more of fiction. But he did have one disadvantage: his story had to be broken down into four parts, and keep the viewer watching the next episode. He turned this into something positive by changing the form of narration, hats off to the smart screenwriting trick! Instead of writing a linear story, each episode focusses on one character’s point of view: from the moment he/she embarks upon the Titanic to the bitter end. Not only does it build up the actual ending where all points of view converge in episode 4, but it provides us from thinking of it as a chronological plot which might have turned out familiar and predictable. The effect, however, is that we were waiting for episode 4 to be spectacular, which it unfortunately fails to be… with a rushed sentimentality in bits of dialogue and useless redundancies in action, we would have wanted to know more about these characters.
Some of them seem familiar: the Italian waiter – his resemblance with James Cameron’s Fabrizzio is not reduced to his looks. A first class girl who has a slight tendency for wild behavior… But no spoilers, you’ll see for yourself.
There are interesting inventions: the presence of the servants’ point of view – Julian Fellowes delectable mark, tensions between catholics and protestants, new second class passengers…
A mini-series worth watching not only in terms of content, but also because it tells us something about the evolution of TV shows and series. The unit of content has changed: while episodes used to have an intrinsic value, they are now part of a whole, which makes it possible to tell stories differently, in a lengthier format – and to our delight.

One thing is certain at last: «One hundred years later, Titanic has not been forgotten.» (Julian Fellowes)

Viddy well my friends, and long live period drama!


E.D.

For those however who are tired of hearing of it all, this is for you:

Tweets “from people who just found out the Titanic was real” : http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/6qjs

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