I streamed Lusitania (1998) on Amazon a few nights back. It pushed me to ponder the subject of Shipwrecks and Sinkings both their history and their impact on the arts and us today. Titanic, Lusitania, the USS Arizona, the Andrea Gail, the Edmond Fitzgerald. Is it the power of nature, the inevitable once it strikes, or the tragedy we can’t look away from? Why is there such a pull to these stories and is tied to our mortality and questions on God and fate? Answer any of this you like or whatever hits you. Specific bits of the past, the adaptations of those events, their legacy. Feel free to share what you think.
I think part of it is the idea that they are so big, how can they sink?
Lusitania and Titanic also have romatic histories.
Lusitania for helping with the war effort when we really weren’t supposed to be involved and Titanic for the whole “unsinkable” and maiden voyage.
Big Fitz had such an impact, I think because it was a modern ship, that sank in the modern era. People had heard about Arizona from their parents, and Titanic from their grandparents, but Fitz was a big ship that went down in our lifetimes. And, as with Titanic, there are various theories as to what happened the night of Nov 10.
My husband and I took a Mediterranean cruise on our honeymoon. Four years later, the Costa Concordia hit a rock after deviating from its route, struck a undersea rock formation and capsized within hours, killing 32.
Same cruise line, same embarkation port, but a different route. It still gave me chills to hear about it, since we knew exactly how massive those ships are.
The romantic past is much of the attraction of Titanic and Lusitania. The vastness of their creation, the unsinkable status applied to them, the seeming simplicity of the times they existed in. We yearn for what we never had and the mythology of what was is very intoxicating especially with maiden voyages, pristine ships, and unseen peril visible only by hindsight. The Arizona is an enormity of destiny seen after the fact much like the others. The immutable intractability of what is compiled by the tapestry of what sprouts from that layers myth, intreptation, and gravity which intensifies the telling and the takeaway over time.
I think, too, there’s this visceral reaction. When you’re on a boat on the ocean, you have nowhere to go to escape. If the ship starts sinking, you have two options: go down with the ship or get in a tiny boat and hope you survive. Then, there’s the mystery of what is beneath the surface of the ocean. Menace can come from underneath you. It can come from above. And you know that the water can extend 10,000 feet or more beneath you.
I think it’s a similar kind of feeling to being trapped on a plane. No escape. You are entirely at the mercy of something you cannot control in any way.
@TeriG The claustrophobia of having no available relief or options. The boat is your home out in the wild and as it slips away into the deep you’re left with going down with the ship or trying to survive any way you can. This choice is so definite it is a guttural shock when you think of it that contributes to the effect this has on people. Thrown on top is the philosophical worry and the immediate of what is next. Waiting for what you know will come and possessing no say in the ending is the cherry resting above it all. This like wondering if there’s life after death is a fundamental query we can’t answer. Not here. Not now.
The Titanic was on fire when it left the shipyards in Belfast. The only solution was to shovel coal faster.
Scary footnote to the disaster.
@wyswysia Truly scary. A reminder these instants stay a reality and linger as a cloud never that far from our thinking magnified if we have a tie to it.
We went to the shipwreck museum at Whitefish Point on Lake Superior and the stories with artifacts are pretty wild and dramatic.
The shrine to the sailors lost on the Edmund Fitzgerald was nearby on the shore. Its bell is the centerpiece of the exhibit.
It seems since the time of The Odyssey being told millenia ago, the human vs. the elements archetype is a great rooting for the underdog story.
At the museum there’s an old rescue station with scary stories like ‘3-Fingers Riley’, where a shipwreck victim had to be chopped out of an ice block but lost some digits in the hacking. He haunted the man by putting the maimed hand on his shoulder from behind.
That one stuck with me since Riley is my surname🧟♂️
There’s also the issue of a coal shortage in Britain at the time. One hypothesis as to why Titanic wasn’t on the normal trans-Atlantic route was because she didn’t have enough coal to make the crossing otherwise.
I’m curious, do they cover the controversy of raising the bell? Some of the family members did not want to wreck touched or the bell brought up.
Split Rock Lighthouse has a ceremony each year on November 10 where they remember the men of Big Fitz. As the names are read a ship’s bell is tolled, and this year several family members, mostly the men’s children, were the ones to ring the bell when their loved one’s name was read. Nov 10 is also the only day of the year Split Rock is lit. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1969 from active service, but they have special dispensation on that day to light the light for those lost to the lake.
Any more on this coal shortage @LadyShelley? I wasn’t aware it was such a factor around then. Nor that it perhaps adjusted the trajectory of Titanic on its maiden run.
There was a coal strike in Britain at the time. The story I had always heard was that even though several other ships gave up some of their allotment of coal for the historic maiden voyage, J Bruce Ismay wasn’t convinced there would be enough coal to make the crossing. He claimed this is why he pushed Smith to increase speed and alter course.
@LadyShelley What is your read on the SS Californian? Its proximity to Titanic when it sank and the multitude of assessments on whether it shucked its duties or neglected noteworthy signs of Titanic’s distress? Is there validity to the claims or is it rampant conspiracy theory?
One of the first animated cartoons was Winsor McCay’s “documentary” of the sinking of the Lusitania. He drew it frame by frame by himself, just an incredible masterpiece.
I love this thread!
Monday (day before yesterday) an acquaintance put on “Wreck of the Edmund Fitz.” while we were chatting with another acquaintance during a brief recess from shooting best three out of five eight ball, who retired from working freight on Lake Erie out of Cleveland.
The third man wasn’t a captain or harbor pilot, I don’t think, but he was not just somebody with an AB card: he had some kind of higher rating. All drunk and he was complaining about the hip-hop on the jukebox, so that seemed to placate him, and I hadn’t heard the tune in quite a while.
There’s also the Andrea Doria in 1956, especially well known for the cinema-worthy tale of 14 year old Linda Morgan, whose cabin the Stockholm’s prow entered upon crashing into the ship, where it traveled under her bed and pulled it back out perfectly balanced, all without waking her up. Just imagine her reaction upon actually waking up the next morning to discover her situation. Plus, her father Edward P. Morgan was a news reporter who somehow managed to give a totally unbiased account of the sinking, never letting on that his daughter was still missing. She’s still alive, and the wife of the mayor of San Antonio.
@jimmy_two_times Huzzah Jimmy! It’s a subject that draws me. Always has.
As I remember, the museum didn’t cover any controversy but I can’t perfectly recall all that was written or portrayed.
They had a short movie telling the whole story through the creation and swapping with the new bell but I don’t recall any dissent.
One of the other stories was of a Royal Mail ship captained by a reckless man who would never slow down or give anyone right-of-way. He would careen around Whitefish Point through dark, snow, and fog. He hit (I think) 6 ships before going down himself.
The Concordia sinking was entirely the fault of the captain, who was completely unprepared for the job and took the ship way too close to land just to satisfy his own ego and honk the horn at the locals.