by Terri Bey
"What a lovely thing she was." That was a line spoken by acting legend Sir Alec Guiness as "John Bigelow" from the 1980 film, "Raise the Titanic," based upon the Clive Cussler novel of the same name. In this particular scene, John Bigelow is reminiscing about his time on the Titanic, as Dirk Pitt (Richard Jordon) listens as he needs information from Bigelow about a guy who may have left England to New York on the Titanic with a mineral called Byzanium.
When I see a photo of the RMS Titanic, from her construction to her launching to her docking and sailing away, the assessment of the Titanic being "lovely" is right on the spot. The liner's striking beauty always has appealed to me, since I first saw a printed version of the famous German artist Willy Stower's painting of the sinking Titanic. There was something about the ship that I found to be beautiful, even though she was dying. I became hooked and throughout my life, I kept looking for more photos of this beautiful liner. I just can not get enough of Titanic photos. When she was discovered on September 1, 1985, I just loved all the photos of her. In my view, the RMS Titanic was the most beautiful object built by the hand of man. Even looking at photos of her as a wreck, she still has quite a bit of her beauty.
In speaking of photos, the Book of the Month for April and the subject of my blog for the Titanic Book Club Newsletter is "Titanic in Photographs" by Daniel Klistorner, Steve Hall, Bruce Beveridge, Art Braunschweiger, and Scott Andrews. This book tells the story of the RMS Titanic in photographs from her keel being laid to her sinking. In this blog, I will be reviewing the book. If I need to discuss a specific photo, I will mention the page number of the book to avoid copyright issues.
"Titanic in Photographs" is one of my favorite books about the Titanic. The authors did an amazing job combining photographs and written descriptions to tell the story of the famous liners. I had seen several photos previously, such as the photos of the launching, the engines, photos taken by Fr. Francis Brown. There were quite a few that I had not seen. I was astounded by the number of photos that were taken of the Titanic, even though she was the second ship in the "Olympic" Class of White Star Line ships. Her older sister, the RMS Olympic, was first in the new class of ships and got most of the attention and her insides were photographed more. In fact, per the book, the Olympic was painted in a lighter color, so she would look better and her size would be emphasized.
The authors went to great lengths to include photos from various collections. As I said, there were many that I hadn't seen before. One was a photo that took two pages (130-131). This photo came from Titanic painter Ken Marschall's collection. It was the RMS Titanic in her glory and showing what makes her so beautiful. I just loved her sleek design, when I look at her from this side view. What I also love is the partially enclosed A Deck, which is different from her sister, the Olympic, which has a totally open A Deck. If you look at the Titanic from the front, you can see the Bridge Wing extended, whereas the Olympic's Bridge Wing is flush. I just love the extension. There is just something about the Titanic that is special.
The authors show photos of the Titanic from the inside, even though not many photos exist from her insides. On pages 100 and 101, the reader gets to see the Cafe' Parisien. The Cafe Parisien happens to be my favorite place on the Titanic. I love the airy feeling and the wicker chairs. The Cafe' Parisien was for the younger crowd and was located on B Deck Starboard. For lack of photography, the authors include paintings of passengers on the Second Class Boat Decks, First Class Cabins in the Georgian styles, passengers using the swimming pool. The reader also sees photographs of passengers in the weight room on page 105, and photographs of First-Class State Rooms. This ship was definitely a palace.
"Titanic in Photographs" is a must-read for any Titanic enthusiast. This is a book for newcomers to the Titanic community, for casual Titanic readers, and certainly serious Titanic enthusiasts. I enjoyed seeing photos of the liner's launch from different angles, different photos of the Titanic, as she made her way out to the Atlantic Ocean from Southampton. The tragedy was covered by using photos of the Carpathia and the remaining lifeboats, but on page 151, I saw a couple of photos that I had never seen before, one a large group of stunned Titanic survivors and the other, a photo of the passengers in Lifeboat 1, Lady Duff Gordon's boat.
I will say, while admiring her beauty, both inside and out, I will never forget that even though she was and in my opinion, still is the most beautiful object built by the hand of man, it was mistakes made by man that destroyed her and killed 1496 people.
Scene: "What a lovely thing she was?" is at the 4:00 mark