Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reel Facts & Opinions: James Cameron Fixes TITANIC

FACT: The release of TITANIC in (goddamn) 3D in theatres this week will come with one subtle alteration: director James Cameron has altered the stars at the time of the sinking.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson realized upon his first viewing of TITANIC (15 years ago), that the starfield that Rose stares at while floating in the debris, was completely wrong. According to Tyson, the left half the sky was nothing more than a mirror image of the right side of the sky.

Tyson contacted Cameron via email (described as “snarky”), and Cameron, a noted perfectionist, obliged his science critic and corrected the shot for the new release to reflect exactly what the sky looked like in the early hours of April 15, 1912.

OPINION: The absolute worst thing James Cameron could have done (besides messing with this 3D bullshit) was to oblige this astro-nerd, who despite his long-list of PhD’s has nothing better to do with his time.

Some credit can be given to Cameron for not letting his pride get in the way, and admitting that he made an error when he just made up his own starfield during TITANIC’s production. For the sake of a film which serves as an historical piece as much as a drama, it’s worth getting the facts correct. There’s also the minor (ha) issue of people wanting to see the original, unaltered versions of their favorite movies. Just ask ten different people what versions of STAR WARS and BLADE RUNNER they prefer and you’re promised a headache.

The debate of Scientific Accuracy vs. The Movies has been explored here on Reel Speak before, but that was focused on science-fiction films (where the sky is the limit, so there). But the danger here is giving the science nerds power. Cameron’s relenting has opened the door for more astro-nerds to nitpick films for not having the stars right and eventually get their way. In the long run maybe some good will come of it. Perhaps filmmakers, out of fear of being embarrassed by guys who look and sound like Professor Honeydew, will pay more attention to their accuracy and get it right the first time.

What say you?

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