Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Night to Remember

When it comes to a film about what happened at sea in the early hours of April 15, 1912, most people think of James Cameron's romantic epic if only for the scenes between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Thirty-nine years earlier, there was a film that many call the most accurate depiction of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

The film in question is Roy Ward Baker's A Night to Remember. (Ironically, this was what inspired Cameron to make Titanic.) Don't expect Baker to sugarcoat any of the details like Cameron did. He means business.

In a semi-documentary style, Baker depicts the horrifying moment the ship's crew and 2,224 passengers encountered. What makes A Night to Remember different from Titanic is that Walter Lord (who wrote the book the film's based on)  was able to get first-hand accounts from the survivors. (Cameron wasn't so lucky.) Safe to say accuracy is key throughout.

And almost like what Fred Zinnemann did with High Noon six years earlier, A Night to Remember is set in almost exact time. That just builds up the tension, especially when you witness some of the passengers completely oblivious as to what's happening to the vessel carrying them. They don't learn until it's almost too late.

A Night to Remember is truly fantastic. Apart from one discrepancy, it displays everything you've read in your history textbooks (or on Wikipedia) to a T. Baker wasn't interested in a love story to make money like Cameron. He was more interested in the details of a tragedy no one saw coming.

My Rating: *****

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