Tag Archives: Titanic

Reader offer: The Sinking of the Titanic at the Barbican, 15 April 2012

The Barbican is marking the weekend’s 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster with a moving event that combines live music with archive footage. Gavin BryarsThe Sinking of the Titanic was inspired by reports that the ship’s string ensemble continued to play the hymn Autumn as the vessel sank; it was written in 1969 and first recorded on Brian Eno’s label Obscure. It will be performed in the Barbican concert hall by the Gavin Bryars ensemble with multimedia artist Philip Jeck.

The archive footage projections have been designed by film-maker Bill Morrison, whose work, including Decasia and The Miners’ Hymns, you may already be familiar with, in collaboration with Laurie Olinder.

Tickets for the event start at £15, but readers of this blog can enjoy a 20% discount when booking online. See the promotional code below.

Throughout the 72 minute piece Bryars and the ensemble weave refrains from Autumn with layers of Jeck’s sample-based materials, creating, at times, clamouring waves of sound that suggest the great engines and massive bulk of the vessel and the ocean that swallowed it. The result is a heart-achingly intimate and direct work.

The Sinking of the Titanic also features projection design by the internationally renowned Bill Morrison, who has commissioned work for some of the most important composers of his time, such as Steve Reich and Henryk Gorecki . Collaborating alongside Morrison is Laurie Olinder, multimedia designer, founding member of New York’s Ridge Theater with previous work being screened at some of the world’s most prestigious arts venues, such as Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Centre and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Silent London readers can claim a 20% discount on tickets for The Sinking of the Titanic. Just enter promo code 15412 when booking online, at barbican.org.uk. The Sinking of the Titanic plays at the Barbican on 15 April 2012 at 8pm.

Read more about the earliest films of  the Titanic disaster and about events to commemorate the anniversary in our guest post by Greg Ward here.

Riots, refunds and a rescued star: the first Titanic films

RMS Titanic
RMS Titanic

This is a guest post for Silent London by Greg Ward, author of Blogtanic.

Working on Blogtanic, my Titanic centenary blog – I was looking for stories about chairs on the Titanic, but let’s not go into that – I stumbled across this intriguing snippet of movie history, in the New York Evening World of April 27, 1912.

The Titanic cinema riot
The Titanic cinema riot

At this point, it’s still less than two weeks since the Titanic went down. Three theatres in Bayonne, New Jersey, 10 miles from downtown Manhattan, announce that they’re going to show moving pictures of the sinking. Knowing that no such footage exists, the local police chief declares he will only allow them to show genuine images. And so the audiences riot.  “Having been led to believe they were to see something sensational [they] uttered loud protests. Seats were torn loose …”

Only in New Jersey did the police take it upon themselves to censor such shows. All over the world, moving picture houses were presenting fake “newsreel” images of the Titanic. Typically they’d include actual film of the Titanic’s Captain Smith, shot the previous year but captioned as though it had been taken on the fatal voyage, cobbled together with close-ups of other liners and scenes of icebergs bobbing in the ocean.

Advert in the Tacoma Times
Advert in the Tacoma Times

Cinema-goers placed a heavy premium on genuine footage – even though there was none of the disaster itself. In this advert, from Tacoma, Washington, a theatre promises to pay out $5,000 if its pictures aren’t genuine.

Dorothy Gibson
Dorothy Gibson

Meanwhile, the same week as the New Jersey riots, and in the same state, director Etienne Arnaud had already started shooting the first-ever Titanic feature film,  Saved From The Titanic. A mere ten days earlier,  22-year-old bona-fide movie star Dorothy Gibson had escaped on the first lifeboat to leave the sinking ship. Now, working to her own script, she re-enacted her ordeal wearing the self-same clothes, and then segued into a fictional story about finding love with a sailor.  Two scenes were even filmed in colour, using the Kinemacolor process, and it was released on 14 May.

By the time the German feature film  In Nacht Und Eis was released that August, four months after the tragedy, the public appetite for sensational images seems to have been sated. Trade papers solemnly reported that Titanic films “don’t attract audiences any more”.

Tell that to James Cameron.

Blogtanic.wordpress.com is written by Greg Ward, the author of the new Rough Guide to the Titanic. Read more about the BFI’s film screenings to commemorate the Titanic centenary on Blogtanic here.