kottke.org posts about Titanic

Rare photographs of the TitanicApr 10 2012

I was under the impression that not many photographs of the Titanic existed...especially those taken on the ship. But amateur photographer Francis Browne was aboard the Titanic from Southampton to Cobh, Ireland and captured many images of the ship's interior, exterior, and voyage. The photos were widely known in the aftermath of the sinking but have been little seen since then.

Browne took this as he was boarding the ship:

Titanic 01

The infamous deck chairs:

Titanic 02

Browne traveled on a first class ticket...this is a view of some passengers on the second class promenade:

Titanic 03

This was taken shortly after the ship dropped anchor in Cobh. Browne obviously did not take this photo because he was still aboard the ship...he acquired it from a photography friend after the fact:

Titanic 04

And this is one of the last photos taken of Titanic before Bob Ballard and his team found the wreckage in the mid-80s:

Titanic 05

These photos will be a big blow to the remaining folks who believe that the Titanic was fictional:

Titanic is real

SOS is 100 years oldJul 01 2008

The SOS signal celebrates 100 years of official use today.

It took the tragedy of the Titanic to reveal just how vital a universal system was. After the collision in April 1912, the ship's radio operators sent out both the old CQD and the new SOS signals, but some ships in the area ignored both, thinking that they were having a party. They soon learnt otherwise, as international headlines told how Jack Phillips, the Titanic's first radio operator, and 1,500 others had been lost along with the "unsinkable" ship. The new SOS distress signal was rarely ignored after that.

Guglielmo Marconi gave testimony to the panel investigating the loss of the Titanic about the emergency signals.

Mr. Marconi explained the distress signals in use in vessels equipped with wireless telegraphy. "C.Q." meant "All stations" and "C.Q.D." was the distress signal. According to the regulations that signal must not be used except by order of the captain of the ship, or other vessels transmitting the signal. Since 1908 the distress signal had been "S.O.S." This and the "C.Q.D." were simply three letters, but they could be interpreted as meaning "Come quickly, danger," and "Save Our Souls".

Here's a simulation of the message that the Titanic sent out that night.

The last meal for the first classApr 14 2008

The last meal for the first class passengers on the Titanic. The meal comprised 10 courses in all, paired with wine and as many after-dinner cigars as you could smoke.

Love it or hate it moviesOct 27 2006

Netflix, the online DVD rental company, recently released a bunch of their ratings data with the offer of a $1 million prize to anyone who could use that data to make a better movie recommendation system. On the forum for the prize, someone noted that the top 5 most frequently rated movies on Netflix were not particularly popular or critically acclaimed (via fakeisthenewreal):

1. Miss Congeniality
2. Independence Day
3. The Patriot
4. The Day After Tomorrow
5. Pirates of the Caribbean

That led another forum participant to analyze the data and he found some interesting things. The most intriguing result is a list of the movies that Netflix users either really love or really hate:

1. The Royal Tenenbaums
2. Lost in Translation
3. Pearl Harbor
4. Miss Congeniality
5. Napoleon Dynamite
6. Fahrenheit 9/11
7. The Patriot
8. The Day After Tomorrow
9. Sister Act
10. Armageddon
11. Kill Bill: Vol. 1
12. Independence Day
13. Sweet Home Alabama
14. Titanic
15. Gone in 60 Seconds
16. Twister
17. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
18. Con Air
19. The Fast and the Furious
20. Dirty Dancing
21. Troy
22. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
23. The Passion of the Christ
24. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
25. Pretty Woman

So what makes these movies so contentious? Generalizing slightly (*cough*), the list is populated with three basic kinds of movies:

Misunderstood masterpieces / cult favorites (Royal Tenenbaums, Kill Bill, Eternal Sunshine)
Action movies (Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, Fast and the Furious)
Chick flicks (Sister Act, Sweet Home Alabama, Miss Congeniality)

The thing that all those kinds of movies have in common is that if you're outside of the intended audience for a particular movie, you probably won't get it. That means that if you hear about a movie that's highly recommended within a certain group and you're not in that group, you're likely to hate it. In some ways, these are movies intended for a narrow audience, were highly regarded within that audience, tried to cross over into wider appeal, and really didn't make it.

Titanic is really the only outlier on the list...massively popular among several different groups of people and critically well-regarded as well. But I know quite a few people who absolutely hate this movie -- the usual complaints are a) chick flick, b) James Cameron's heavy-handedness, and c) reaction to the huge success of what is perceived to be a marginally entertaining, middling quality film.

BTW, here are the movies on that list that fit into my "love it" category:

The Royal Tenenbaums
Lost in Translation
Napoleon Dynamite
The Day After Tomorrow
Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Titanic
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

The last American survivor of the sinkingMay 08 2006

The last American survivor of the sinking of the Titanic -- and the last one to have any memories of the event -- has died at age 99.

Top 10 nitpicked movies of all time. TitanicDec 16 2005

Top 10 nitpicked movies of all time. Titanic and Jurassic Park top the list.

Top 10 (somehow expressed in 11 items) revolutionary specialDec 14 2005

Top 10 (somehow expressed in 11 items) revolutionary special effects movies of all time. Twister? Where's Titanic?

Tags related to Titanic:
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