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#131. Cruiseliner Disasters

Say you want to get away from it all. What better way to remove yourself from the hassles of life than to take a cruise out in the middle of the ocean? And yet, the isolation from the world that you find on a cruise might actually be a detriment when something goes wrong. The further away from land you are, the more narrow your chances for survival are if a disaster were to happen. There’s a great sense of helplessness when you’re floating in the middle of the ocean, waiting for help to arrive and knowing that not only can you not possibly swim to shore, but that it’s only a matter of time before you succumb to the elements, sharks, or exhaustion. In only a matter of moments, your life goes from one of luxury to one of pure survival. This week’s two films look at some famous disasters involving cruiseliners.

TitanicTitanic
Year: 1997
Rating: PG-13
Length: 194 minutes / 3.23 hours

When we try to oppose the laws of nature, bad things happen. Sure, there are workarounds for gravity, but the one law that will most vehemently refuse to be broken is Murphy’s Law. Case in point, if you build a ship that you declare to be “unsinkable”, Murphy’s Law will immediately doom its fate to one of ironic consequences. Not only will all the procedures and technology you put in place to make the boat unsinkable fail, but they will actually fail in such a way as to make the boat sink faster. Even though the demise of such a ship is laced with irony, the simple fact of the matter is that cruiseships have a lot of passengers, so the chances of everyone on board surviving ends up being very slim, thus adding to the tragedy that can befall anyone who attempts to oppose the most powerful law of the universe.

On the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic, everyone who is someone is on board to experience the trip of a lifetime across the Atlantic Ocean on the largest and most “unsinkable” boat ever built. Of course, when you make a boat this large, it tends to be a little difficult to steer, which means that when an iceberg shows up in your path, you’ll end up hitting it with a glancing blow, tearing open the side of your ship. As the hull fills with water due to the failure of some air-tight bulkheads, the entire rear-end of the Titanic lifts out of the ocean and into the air. This causes the boat to break in two, and the two halves now speed on toward their watery grave. Unfortunately, because a disaster of this magnitude was not anticipated, there were not nearly enough lifeboats to save all the passengers and many died in this historic event.

The Poseidon AdventureThe Poseidon Adventure
Year: 1972
Rating: PG
Length: 117 minutes / 1.95 hours

OK, so let’s say you make a ship absolutely unsinkable. What’s the worst that could happen now? Oh, I don’t know, maybe the whole thing will flip over and you’ll be trapped in an inverted world with no power and a steady flow of water. Lifeboats won’t do you much good when the only part of the ship above the water is the hull. Considering that most people spend their time on the top half of a cruiseship, when it capsizes the only way to get out is to climb all the way to the bottom of the boat (which is now the top). A lot of things don’t work quite the way they should when they’re upside down, so what once was a welcoming environment soon becomes a twisted deathtrap. Plus, I’ve already mentioned that once you get out of the overturned oceanliner, you’re still stranded in the middle of the ocean.

It’s New Year’s Eve on the SS Poseidon and everyone’s having a great time as they head from New York City (much akin to the Titanic’s destination). As the clock gets closer to striking twelve, an enormous tidal wave is headed toward the ship. Right after midnight, the wave hits and capsizes the boat. Now, in order to escape, everyone needs to head to the bottom of the ship, which is now many stories above them. A rag-tag group of passengers set out to navigate their way through the overturned maze of rooms and corridors, climbing ever closer to freedom. Of course, the journey takes its toll on a few of the members of the group so that, by the time they reach the hull, only six people have survived the tragic event, many of the group having given their lives so that the others could continue on toward freedom.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 sinking ships

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2 responses to “#131. Cruiseliner Disasters

  1. Pingback: End of Act Three | Cinema Connections

  2. Pingback: #143. Leonardo DiCaprio | Cinema Connections

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