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10 History Movies That Mostly Get It Right


9
"A Night to Remember"
The 1958 film's accuracy moved survivors of the tragedy. Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images
The 1958 film's accuracy moved survivors of the tragedy. Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images

Ever since the sinking of the RMS Titanic during its maiden trip across the Atlantic in 1912, the story has fascinated the public. In 1958, the British movie "A Night to Remember," directed by Roy Ward Baker, attempted to do justice to the story on film.

The filmmakers based the film on a book of the same name by American historian Walter Lord, who meticulously researched the saga and interviewed survivors. If the movie isn't perfectly historically accurate (and it isn't), it's not for lack of trying. An enormous amount of effort went into making everything right. The filmmakers sought out actors who resembled the people they were playing. The set designers recreated the grand staircase, purchased identical lifeboats and sought exact replicas of the paintings that hung in the ship [source: Richards].

Of course, the movie isn't perfect. Unfortunately, the research proved wrong on certain points. The most notable mistake is that the film depicts the ship sinking in one piece. We now know that the Titanic broke into two before sinking, but eyewitness accounts conflicted on this issue, and no one knew for sure at the time.

Survivors who saw the film were moved and remarked how accurate it was. The only exception was survivor Violet Jessop, who noted some discrepancies and expressed regret for not accepting the filmmakers' invitation to be an adviser [source: Richards].

This film was later eclipsed by the enormously popular and visually stunning 1997 James Cameron epic, "Titanic." Cameron got the visuals right, but historians and critics took issue with the fictional storyline and flat characters. And despite a lack of realistic visuals, "A Night to Remember" still stands out as more historically authentic.