The One Grim Titanic Scene James Cameron Regrets Filming

The One Grim Titanic Scene James Cameron Regrets Filming
Image credit: Legion-Media

One problem with making movies based on relatively recent historical events, like James Cameron's Titanic is that these movies involve real people, whose descendants are still alive and well, and can voice their indignation for unflattering portrayal of their ancestors.

Such is the case with portrayal of First Officer William Murdoch (Ewan Stewart) in Titanic. While he gets a noble moment when he throws a wealthy passenger's bribe back in his face, he then shoots a passenger in a moment of panic, killing him.

Overwhelmed with despair and possibly blaming himself for the disaster (Murdoch was the officer at the ship's helm at the moment of fatal collision) Murdoch then shoots himself in the head.

Certainly, Titanic's officers as a whole can be blamed for incompetent handling of evacuation.

See Kate Winslet' s Titanic Screen Test: Proof That She Was Born to Play Rose

The failure to properly inform passengers about severity of the situation, the crew being unaware that the lifeboats on Titanic could carry only half of those on board, closing of the stairs which trapped third-class passengers, and the "women and children first" rule, resulted in many lifeboats getting launched half-full.

And that caused almost five hundreds of needless deaths (there were only 710 survivors, despite Titanic's lifeboats having the nominal capacity of 1178 men).

However, there is no indication that Murdoch in particular blamed himself for the situation enough to commit suicide, and him doing so in the movie wasn't appreciated by Murdoch's descendants. They've maintained that Murdoch did everything he could to save lives, and while eyewitness accounts suggests that one of the officers on the ship shot someone and then possibly shot himself, choosing Murdoch for that moment was clearly done in the interest of drama, rather than historical accuracy.

Even James Cameron admitted in an interview that he might have failed to think that through.

"So I think I got a little carried away with the narrative and was not sensitive to the impact that it might have had on the families. And this is the responsibility that one carries when you're making what's essentially a big docudrama because you're telling the story of something that really happened, and I did populate it with real people. "

Ewan Stewart similarly admitted to not really considering that he was portraying a real person.

In the end, Cameron apologized to Officer Murdoch's family for that scene of his film.