Did anyone else watch the ITV drama, Titanic? Anyone else find it amazingly well-written and unbearably sad?
Written by Julian Fellows, I watched it mostly for this reason, having loved the first series of Downton Abbey. Of course, some of the emotional pull of the four-part series was the knowledge that it was a real-life tragedy. However, that shouldn't take anything away from Julian Fellows - it was astonishingly well-crafted drama. I've never thought about writing for stage or screen before, but now I just want to be like him!
Each of the first three episodes started just before the Titanic set sail and followed a couple of different people and families up to the point where all the lifeboats had been launched. Throughout each however, we saw snapshots of the people we meet in the other episodes, with all the storylines dovetailing together so beautifully. The final episode covered the moment the iceberg hit, to the moment the survivors saw the lights of the ship that rescued them. It was heartbreaking. Finding out which of the characters you've been following survive and which don't make it hit me harder than any other drama I've ever watched.If you haven't watched it then go to ITV player at once and do it, for me. Just incredible.
The real key to the beauty of it was the characterisation. I consider the characters of Snape in the Harry Potter series and Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities, to be the best examples of characterisation I've ever read. But now I'm adding these characters to my list. None of the main characters was two-dimensional; they were all heroes and cowards, hopeful and despairing, good and bad. For example, one of the men is an adulterer, but also one of the few first class passengers that tried to help the third class women and children on to the lifeboats. He is a fallible hero and I loved him a little bit. Just like I loved the hot-headed father who loved his children so much but was helpless at the mercy of the Atlantic, and the arguing couple who realised how much they needed each other just in time, before... well, I'll let you find out. This is how your build characters folks. A absolute masterclass.
The thought of what happened 100 years ago is horrifying, isn't it? The panic and confusion of knowing the ship you're on is sinking into icy water in the middle of a dark ocean; the horror of women safe in the lifeboats watching and hearing 1500 people drowning, including the husbands they'd been forced to leave behind; the fear and gallantry of the men who saved others, knowing that they would die... I'm not really a crying type of person, but this really got me. I think it's the gallantry - bravery always chokes me up. I was recently reading about HMS Birkenhead (the first recorded use of what became known as the Birkenhead Drill - "Women and children first!") and found myself with something in my eye. The men on the HMS Birkenhead, chose to stay on the deck of their sinking ship, in shark-infested water, and die rather than swim out the lifeboats as they'd been given permission to do, in order not to risk capsizing the boats full of women and children. And it's stories like that that sometimes gets me wondering, who needs fiction anyway? Real life is sometimes enough.