If you’ve lived in a cave in the last few decades, James Cameron’s film Titanic was a huge box office success in 1997! A must-see blockbuster, this film, with a prestigious cast (Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet), has become a reference in historical drama. And of course, (otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about it), this film never stops alluding to Ireland, its history and culture! Music, Irish characters… The film is deeply influenced by the green Erin! But why did James Cameron highlight Ireland through his film? Deciphering.

Titanic Synopsis

A dazzling love story against the backdrop of a shipwreck

April 10, 1912 – Southampton. The Titanic, the world’s largest ocean liner, is about to set sail for its first voyage to the United States. On board is Rose, a young woman from the English bourgeoisie, ill at ease in her skin and in her life, doomed to an unwanted marriage with a man she doesn’t respect. On board, she meets Jack, a poor artist, who won his ticket by playing poker, with whom she will end up falling in love… despite the pressures of her family.

Unfortunately, the Titanic hit an iceberg on April 4, 1912, causing the sinking of the presumed unsinkable liner. A race for survival then begins…

A film that traces the Irish history of the Titanic

An ocean liner built in Belfast

When James Cameron embarked on the project of his film, his ambition was to see things in a big way! Awesome special effects, impressive sequence shots… The idea was to have the most realistic approach!

But to do this, he had to be above all faithful to the history of the Titanic… and that of its passengers!

That’s why we learn from the beginning of the film that the Titanic is a ship that was built in Belfast. Built at the Harland & Wolff shipyard, for the White Star Line, the liner indeed required more than 14,000 men for its construction!
It should be remembered that the RMS Titanic was an important issue for the United Kingdom at the time: Great Britain, which ran the shipyard, hoped to shine for its skills in naval engineering. Such a shipyard made the whole world dream, and seemed almost to be an unattainable feat as the scale of the Titanic seemed so disproportionate!

That’s why James Cameron relies from the start on the fact that the Titanic is an Irish liner, and that before being in Southampton, it had sailed from Cobh, a small port village in Ireland.

To this is quickly added the feeling that the liner is home to a community of Irish passengers (historically, it is estimated that 123 Irish emigrants would have taken the Titanic, 79 of whom would have perished in the shipwreck). The latter seem to be mainly confined to 3rd class. James Cameron portrays them as happy, kind and festive people. Proof of this is when Jack and Rose go out one evening to have fun and dance to traditional Irish music. All the Irish people on the boat seem to be together for this festive moment. A unique moment that seems to literally transform Rose, as if she realizes that real life can be like an Irish jig, simple and spontaneous.

To this, James Cameron seems to be unofficially insisting on the poverty of the Irish. He presents them all as belonging to the 3rd classes. He presents them as simple, gentle and kind people. They are sometimes mothers traveling with their children, sometimes couples, sometimes singles… They all seem to aspire to a better life, eager to start a new life in America.

Finally, the success of the film wouldn’t be the same without its soundtrack with strong Irish influences. Special mention for t for the presence of an uilleann pipe in the soundtrack of the film: this typically Irish bagpipe gives the film an unprecedented charm! Not to mention the use of an Irish flute, bodhràn, fiddle and other typically Irish instruments!

Here are the many references to Ireland that can be seen in James Cameron’s film Titanic. References that reinforce the historical aspect of the liner, and humanize a little more the passengers on board.

Our opinion

A story sewn together with white threads, in the service of a poignant drama

The Titanic is without a doubt an excellent feature film. James Cameron distils all the ingredients necessary to make a good blockbuster: a pinch of romance here, a dose of social conflict there, some grandiloquent special effects, a terrible drama… And here you have a film whose cinematic potential has earned it 11 Oscars!

A promising cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Bill Paxton… and you will fall under the spell of a film that will make you live the historic sinking of the Titanic. You’ll feel like you have a front-row seat, living with the passengers their last moments before the wreck of the Titanic lies over 4000 meters deep.

Although the love story between Rose and Jack can be criticized for being “a little light and easy”, it only serves to better serve the terrible drama of the shipwreck. For the story is divided into 2 parts: count 1h30 of romance on a plot of social breakdown, for 1h30 of final shipwreck. A classic yet effective scenario that releases all the dramatic tension of the film!

So much more to discover...