The Titanic Legacy, Part II

April 22, 2012 | By | Add a Comment

Ach, Du meine gute!

This time the focus is on Titanic [M] (Kino Video), the 1943 Nazi production supervised by Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, a film which in 2012 dollars cost $200 million to produce, and after all that effort (not to mention the death of its director, Herbert Selpin) was banned by Herr Doktor because after seeing the finished film he realized he had done a big oopsy-doopsy: instead of a movie designed to breed hatred of vile capitalist Britishers, Titanic’s images of screaming passengers were too similar to unhappy Germans being blitzed by Allied bombing raids. Ergo, German audiences never saw the film until after the war (unless they were in Nazi occupied territories, where it premiered and enjoyed a reportedly decent first run).

Now, $200 million is a substantive amount of cash, and when one considers the resources which were taken away from the war effort, one would think Goebbels might have realized blowing so much on a movie was absurd, and yet as the History Channel’s fascinating new doc, Nazi Titanic [M] reveals, Goebbels was a complex little monster: unqualified to serve in the army, he tried to find relevance by trying to impact the general populace with propaganda – and his own vain efforts to be a movie mogul.

Moguls are vain and egotistical, but there’s something comical in the way an angry child chose to make big loud movies to prove he too was a Zanuck, a Warner, a Cohn, or a Disney… and yet he wasn’t, and could never be because he had no vision beyond supervising works in tandem with government policy. He was an egomaniacal bureaucrat with an almost bottomless wallet, and his final pet projects were pure folly: the costly Titanic, the bombastic Kolberg [M] (1945), and the unrealized Das leben geht weiter / Life Goes On [M] (1945).

The History doc covers the making of the 1943 film, but goes quite broad in tracing back the influences that shaped the leading characters who were drawn into the production, including Goebbels, Selpin, back-stabbing screenwriter Walter Zerlett-Olfenius, and the horrible fate of the ship that doubled for the Titanic – the Cap Arcona.

I’ve larded the reviews with several external links, plus fixed up some internal links so there’s continuity between the Main & Mobile sites. Besides the addition of the aforementioned in mobile form, there’s the 1938 newsreel / propaganda short Wort und tat / Word and Deed [M], and older reviews of Raise the Titanic [M] (which is out on a Germany DVD, reportedly in its proper 2.35:1 ratio, which I’ll eventually cover) and Titanic [M] (1953), the Fox-produced film which was supposed to debut on Blu-ray this month, but has been pushed back to the fall.

Yes, there will be more Titanic installments here. Why? Because among filmed Titanic tales, there’s the German In Nacht und Eis (1912), the Danish Atlantis (1913), the multi-lingual sound release Atlantic (1929), the Nazi Titanic (1943), the American soap opera / disaster Titanic (1953), the British A Night to Remember (1958), the ABC TV movie S.O.S. Titanic (1979), Clive Cussler’s Raise the Titanic (1980), the CBS TV mini-series Titanic (1996), James Cameron’s Titanic (1997), the TV movie Saving the Titanic (2011), the TV mini-series Titanic (2012), and (so far) the 12-part series (!) Titanic: Blood and Steel (2012).

Yup, there’s one more mini-series slated to grace the TV airwaves because the world really needs a serialized drama of more people drowning in arctic water.

And don’t get me started on the cottage industry of documentaries.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor ( Main Site / Mobile Site )

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