One of the most successful movies in Hollywood history, the 1997 classic Titanic has caused the shedding of countless tears. The epic romance between the Jack and Rose on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic, the biggest ship of its time, conquered the hearts of all of the viewers, and led the movie to hold the record for box office gross for twelve years, and to win 11 Academy Awards out of 14 nominations. It also spawned one of the most iconic (and arguably most hated) songs of all time, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and directed by James Cameron, Titanic undoubtedly deserves to be called one of the all-time greatest classics.
Here are a few things you may not have known about this film, compiled by Factinate.
1. The real reason for its making
The truth behind the creation and conception of Titanic lies in James Cameron’s, a certified scuba diver, desire to dive to the wreck of the real Titanic.
2. The other love story
Yes, the main love story is obviously that of Jack and Rose, but there is another romance aboard. And this one is based on a true story. The elderly couple hugging on the bed while the water comes rushing in their room are Ida and Isidor Straus. They were the owners of Macy’s department store in New York and they both died when the Titanic sank. Ida rejected the seat she was offered on a lifeboat not wanting to leave her husband behind. “As we have lived together, so we shall die together,” she said.
3. A new use
A scale model of the wrecked ship was displayed in the Titanic museum in Branson, Missouri. It had been there for years before being taken back to Hollywood in 2011 for the filming of the 3D version of the Titanic.
4. Real rooms
The rooms B52, B54 and B56, occupied by Caledon Hockley, Rose DeWitt Bukater and Ruth DeWitt Bukater in the movie, were actual room numbers from the real Titanic. They were at first booked by J.P. Morgan, who had a controlling interest in International Mercantile Marine, a conglomerate that owned the White Star Line, the British shipping company. Morgan cancelled the reservation before the ship sailed, and even though there is a rumor that the cabins were then booked by Bruce Ismay, chairman and managing director of the White Star Line, this has never been proven.
5. The music
James Cameron wanted Enya to compose the score for the film. He even made a rough edit using her music. But the Irish musician declined the offer, and Cameron hired James Hornet instead. The two of them had previously collaborated on Cameron’s previous film Aliens (1986). According to Hornet, tensions were so high during the post production of the movie, that he never imagined working with Cameron again. The director was, however, very impressed with Hornet’s score for Braveheart, and he didn’t hesitate to hire him again.
6. Some things are best left to the imagination
As Jack turns a page in his portfolio, his portrait of the one-legged prostitute can be seen for two frames. James Cameron didn’t want to show the portrait, because he felt the viewers would imagine it better than it really was.
7. Overstepping the budget
The film’s original budget was $135,000,000. However, the production took two months longer than expected, which required Paramount Pictures to contribute an additional $65,000,000 in exchange for U.S. distribution rights. It all worked out well in the end, as Titanic became the highest grossing film in box office history with a worldwide gross of US$1.8 billion. It held the first place on the list for twelve years before being surpassed by Avatar (2009), another James Cameron movie.
8. The fake breaths
There is only one scene in the entire movie where the actors’ visible breath trail in the cold weather wasn’t digitally added in later. That’s the scene where Thomas Andrews chastises Second Officer Charles Lightoller for sending the boats away without filling them to capacity.
9. Warming up the water
Apparently James Cameron had forbidden bathrooms breaks for the actors while shooting the lifeboat scenes. Since they weren’t allowed to get out of the tank, several actors, including Kate Winslet, had to relieve themselves in the water.
10. The meaning of the Swedish phrases
Sven and his buddy during the card game say, “I can’t believe you bet our tickets! Shut up!” Then, when he grabs Jack by the throat, Sven says, “You damn weasel!” And then he punches his buddy in the face, saying “You damn idiot! What the hell are we gonna do? I’m gonna kill you!”
11. Breaking the ice
When Kate Winslet realized that she would be naked in front of Leonardo DiCaprio, she decided that the best way to break the ice would be to flash him at their first meeting. The scene where Jack sketches a nude Rose was in fact one of the first scenes shot for the film.
12. Is there anything James can’t do?
James Cameron was the one who drew all of Jack’s sketches, including the one of Rose wearing nothing but a necklace. Which means, that the hands that can be seen drawing Rose were actually the director’s. But James Cameron, who is a lefty, flipped the image in post-production to make it seem as if he was using his right hand, as DiCaprio would.
13. A nice dip in the frigid water
Kate Winslet decided not to wear a wetsuit during the water scenes. So, Rose gasping as she enters the cold water was the actress’s genuine reaction. Winslet got pneumonia because of this.
14. A drop in the ocean
The movie had a special 3D re-release in 2012 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship. The film earned an additional $343 million worldwide, bringing the Titanic‘s worldwide total to an incredible $2.18 billion!
15. Close, but no cigar
8-year-old Lindsay Lohan auditioned for the role of Cora Cartmell, and was the top choice for the role. But because of her fiery red hair, James Cameron thought the viewers might think she was related to Rose and Ruth, so he decided to cast Alexandrea Owens instead.
16. The sunset scene
The most iconic scene of the entire film is perhaps when Jack and Rose are at the bow of the ship. It wasn’t CGI; it was really shot at sunset, as the director felt that it would be the perfect time for filming that scene.
17. Starring as himself
James Cameron based the character of Lewis Bodine on his friend Lewis Abernathy. But he couldn’t find an actor to correctly portray him, so he decided to go for the real thing, and asked Abernathy to play himself. “If you want to mess up your movie by casting me, buddy, alright,” was Abernathy’s response.
18. Sneaky sneak
Jack is a 3rd class passenger and he sneaks into first class, hoping not to get caught. But on the real Titanic, there actually was a passenger, Hilda Maria Hellström, who snuck up to first class and didn’t get caught. When the ship hit the iceberg, she was in her own cabin though, and managed to survive by boarding one of the last lifeboats to leave, Collapsible C.
19. The heart of the film
Initially, James Cameron was firm about not including any songs in the movie, not even during the closing credits. But James Horner, the composer, went behind his back and arranged for lyricist Will Jennings and singer Céline Dion to write “My Heart Will Go On” and record a demo tape. He then presented the song to Cameron, who liked it, and decided to use it for the closing credits. The song won an Oscar for Best Original Song.
20. Man’s best friend
Old Rose in the movie owns a Pomeranian. Only three dogs are known to have survived the disaster, one of which was a Pomeranian. When the real ship was sinking, all the dogs were released from their kennels. One of the survivors later recalled seeing a French bulldog swimming in the ocean. James Cameron filmed scenes with the doomed animals, but decided to leave them out of the film.
21. Lovely Rose
Titanic was the first movie that received two nominations for the portrayal of the same character. Kate Winslet was nominated for Best Actress, and Gloria Stuart, who played old Rose, for Best Supporting Actress. The next movie to achieve the same was Iris (2001), which also starred Winslet.
22. A makeshift raft
The wooden panel on which Rose floated after the ship sank was based on a genuine artifact that survived the disaster, but it was made larger to make sure that it could hold Rose’s weight above water. The real panel is on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
23. Great improv
One of the most famous lines of the movie, Jack’s “I’m the king of the world!” was actually improvised by Leonardo DiCaprio. It was voted as the #4 of “The 100 Greatest Movie Lines” by Premiere in 2007.
24. A small-scale Atlantic
The scenes in the ocean were actually filmed in a 350,000 gallon tank. The actors had been made to look like frozen corpses with a powder that crystallized when exposed to water. Applying some wax on their hair and clothes gave them a wet look.
25. Real-life inspiration
Many of the more notable extras were inspired from actual survivors. The scene where a man tells two little girls “It’s only for a little while” as he loads them into a life boat was based on the testimony of one of the girls who survived.
26. Leo or Matthew?
James Cameron was adamant that Jack would be played by Leonardo DiCaprio, despite the studios wanting Matthew McConaughey for the role. DiCaprio and Winslet had both agreed to do the film before the whole script had been written. At the time, they had only seen a 165-page outline James Cameron had written.
27. Going out with a bang
Someone decided to play a prank on the last night of shooting. They put some PCP, the dissociative hallucinogen also known as angel dust, into the food that was served to the cast and crew. 80 people fell ill, and 50 were taken to the hospital because of the hallucinations. James Cameron realised what was happening, so he made himself throw up before the effects of the drug took hold. Actor Bill Paxton felt listless for two weeks after the incident. The culprit was never discovered.
28. Getting wet
Eric Braeden’s final scene included the release of 120 tons of water, which was three times more than initially planned. Afterwards, the actor confessed he’d never been more terrified than when preparing for that scene, since, obviously, rehearsing it was impossible.
29. The real J. Dawson
When he wrote the script, James Cameron meant for the two main characters, Rose DeWitt Bukater and Jack Dawson, to be entirely fictitious. But once the script was finished, he found out that there really was a “J. Dawson” on the ship. Joseph Dawson was an Irish trimmer born in September 1888. His body was salvaged from the ocean and he was buried at the Fairview Lawn cemetery in Nova Scotia, as were many other victims of the disaster. Today, his grave stone is the most visited one in the cemetery.
30. Great attention to detail
The length of all the scenes set in 1912 (excluding the credits and the present-day scenes) total two hours and forty minutes. That is the exact time it took the real Titanic to sink. Also, the collision with the iceberg apparently lasted 37 seconds, as long as the collision scene lasts in the film.
31. The perfect match
Kate Winslet was so eager to get the role of Rose, that she sent James Cameron notes from England every day. Then she went to LA and kept calling him on the phone, until he gave her the part. “You don’t understand! I am Rose! I don’t know why you’re even seeing anyone else!” she would say.
The line that Jack was supposed to say as he was preparing to draw Rose was “Lie on that couch.” But Leonardo DiCaprio made a mistake, and he said “Over on the bed…the couch.” James Cameron liked this version better so he left it in the movie.