August 5, 2009

Question on Titanic

I received an interesting e-mail the other day from someone who stumbled upon my Titanic webpages. The person asked if I knew of a scene from the movie in which a man dresses up as a woman in order to board one of the lifeboats, bypassing the ethic of "women and children first." This is my response:

I'm sorry to say, I don't know of any scene in Titanic in which a man dresses up pretending to be a woman in order to get onto a lifeboat, nor have I ever read of anyone having done this on board the real Titanic.

There are two scenes in the movie in which the issue of violating the "women and children first" rule were addressed. The first takes place around the 2:10 mark of my copy of the film.* This scene is where the real-life person, Bruce Ismay, played by Jonathan Hyde, gets on a lifeboat to the disgust of First Officer Murdoch (Ewan Stewart). Ismay did indeed get on one of the lifeboats and was shunned by society for the remainder of his life because of it. (Even though he was not part of the crew, he was Managing Director for the White Star Lines, the company which owned Titanic. People apparently thought that he should have gone down with the ship like the Captain was expected to because he was part of management. In fairness to Ismay, the lifeboat was nowhere close to full when it was lowered, and Ismay was the only remaining passenger in the vicinity. In this regard, the movie was quite faithful to the scene.)

The scene that you might be thinking of comes a little later in the movie, around the 2:22 mark. This is when the fictional character Cal Hockley (played by Billy Zane) picks up a crying girl who had become separated from her parents. He takes the girl to one of the officers (Chief Officer Wilde, played by Mark Chapman), where he claims that "I'm all she has in the world." The officer passes them through and he gets on to the lifeboat.

Now, it's possible that there could have been such a scene included in one of the deleted scenes. I don't own the special collection DVDs that include the deleted scenes, nor have I seen all of the deleted scenes on Youtube, although I've seen some of them there. However, as I said above, in all my readings about Titanic, I've never read anywhere that a man dressed up as a woman in order to board one of the lifeboats.

Thanks for sending in the question. It was quite interesting.

* You should probably add about one or two minutes here. My current copy of the movie, a VCD, was partially censored by the government of Singapore, where I currently live. Until a few years ago, they used to cut out parts of movies that featured nudity or what they considered to be "excessive violence." So the scene in which Rose is drawn by Jack has been partially cut to delete Kate Winslet's nudity.

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