Titanic! A few thoughts (and books) in honor of the movie’s 25th anniversary

25 years! Has it really been 25 year since we (I) sat spellbound for 3+ hours watching the epic love story of Jack and Rose and the terrible tragedy of the Titanic’s sinking? (And for some of us, 25 years since we watched this movie MULTIPLE TIMES??)

It’s true. This month, in honor of the 25th anniversary, a remastered 3D version of the movie was released in theaters… and naturally, I had to go see it. Yes, I’ve seen the movie more than once already (three times, I think, which is still fewer viewings than some of my more fanatical friends can claim), but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to experience it once again on the big screen.

I’m so glad I did! I went this past Monday… and loved every moment. Sure, some of the panned-out views of the ship are more glaringly CGI than they seemed 25 years ago, but still — the visuals are gorgeous, and the overall impact is still there, powerful as ever.

It was sweet seeing how young Kate and Leo were back then, and while the romance still has its fair share of super cheesy lines, I still found it lovely, and I truly enjoyed the experience.

Here’s the trailer for the anniversary re-release:

Sigh. I’m not over it. Clearly.

Meanwhile, creator James Cameron hosts Titanic: 25 Years Later on the NatGeo channel (also streaming on Disney+), a one-hour retrospective that goes back and revisits some of the new developments and discoveries about the Titanic that have come about in the last 25 years… and most crucially, settles the door debate once and for all!

Could Jack have lived if he’d gotten onto the floating door with Rose? Was there enough room for two? The show recreates the moment in a controlled environment, having two stunt people try out different options for sharing the space and seeing if Jack’s body temperature could have remained high enough for him to survive until a rescue boat arrived. I gotta admit, it was pretty fascinating! Spoiler for those who don’t plan to watch — it’s a maybe! After trying several difference options, one scenario did seem to suggest that Jack and Rose could have both survived, but only if they’d known to situate themselves in just the right way, which seems doubtful. So… I’ll stick with the idea that there really wasn’t a viable choice, and mourn for poor Jack, who sacrificed his own life to give Rose the change to live.

Here’s a little snippet:

The whole show is fascinating — definitely worth checking out!

Meanwhile, back in the world of books…

Having watched Titanic this week, I’m in the mood to read about it too! I’ve read several novels set on the Titanic, and have a few others on my to-read list:

I’ve read:

Every Man For Himself by Beryl Bainbridge (published 1996)

I read this book over ten years ago, and while I don’t remember many of the fictional elements, I do remember being impressed by how well this book conveys the human tragedy and the awful timeline of the events.

The Midnight Watch by David Dyer (published 2016)

Heartbreaking story about the SS Californian, a ship that was near enough to see Titanic’s distress flares yet waited to offer assistance. Woven into the narrative is the story of a family traveling in steerage on Titanic. Combined, these two plotlines make for powerful reading. (review)

The Deep by Alma Katsu

Oh dear. This one really did not work for me. It’s a ghost story/horror story set onboard Titanic, and I found it pretty muddled and unnecessary. In some ways, the ghost story might have been much better if it were set on a random ship, but combining it with the Titanic story was not great. (review)

But wait, there’s more! Here are a handful of Titanic-themed novels that I either own copies of or have on my TBR list, but have yet to read. (I’m sure there are many, many more to choose from, but these are the ones that have caught my eye so far):

The Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee (published 2021)

Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise, though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese people aren’t allowed into America...

Note: I’m starting this book today!

A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice by Rebecca Connolly (published 2022)

Shortly after midnight on April 15, 1912, the captain of the Carpathia, Arthur Rostron, wakes to a distress signal from the Titanic, which has struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage. Though information is scarce, Rostron leaps into action, determined to answer the call for help. But the Carpathia is more than four hours away, and there are more questions than answers: Will his ship hold together if pushed to never-before-tested speeds? What if he also strikes an iceberg? And with the freezing temperatures, will there be any survivors by the time the Carpathia arrives?

A Night to Remember by Walter Lord (published 1955)

OK, this one is non-fiction, but it’s supposed to be an amazing read:

First published in 1955, A Night to Remember remains a completely riveting account of the Titanic’s fatal collision and the behavior of the passengers and crew, both noble and ignominious. Some sacrificed their lives, while others fought like animals for their own survival. Wives beseeched husbands to join them in lifeboats; gentlemen went taut-lipped to their deaths in full evening dress; and hundreds of steerage passengers, trapped below decks, sought help in vain.

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor (published 2012)

A voyage across the ocean becomes the odyssey of a lifetime for a young Irish woman. . . .

Ireland, 1912 . . .

Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again...

The Second Mrs. Astor by Shana Abé (published 2021)

This riveting novel takes you inside the scandalous courtship and catastrophic honeymoon aboard the Titanic of the most famous couple of their time—John Jacob Astor and Madeleine Force. Told in rich detail, this novel of sweeping historical fiction will stay with readers long after turning the last page...

Have you read any great fiction about the Titanic? Or do you have a favorite non-fiction account to recommend?

I’m sure my Titanic obsession will ease up a bit as time goes by… but seeing the movie again definitely brought up all those feelings!

14 thoughts on “Titanic! A few thoughts (and books) in honor of the movie’s 25th anniversary

  1. Hi Lisa – wow what a great post. Of course, I loved The Titanic and have seen it at least 3 times, although never in a theater. And I’m glad to see that other people have discussed whether Jack could have survived/if there was room for him too. I’ve always wondered that! Thanks for sharing these books too, I did read one: The Second Mrs. Astor.

    • Maybe I heard about it from you! I never seem to keep track of where I first discovered the books I want to read. If you’re a Titanic fan, maybe now is the time to see it in the theater. There’s something so powerful about seeing it on the big screen.

  2. I would love to see the 25th anniversary edition in the theater, what a fun experience! And I didn’t realize there were so many Titanic themed books out there😁

  3. I remember when Titanic came out, and a couple of my friends were so into it and wouldn’t shut up about it for months. I got so sick of it that I didn’t want anything to do with the movie, even though I thought it was pretty good. Time has since softened my irritation, but I don’t think I would go back to the theater to see it.

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