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By Veronika Hoelker on 13.4.2023

The Titanic: 100 Years On

Though many of us remember the Titanic as the setting of the famous love story of Jack and Rose, the luxury liner and its sinking have fascinated people even long before James Cameron’s Hollywood gem reached cinemas throughout the world. For years, people have marvelled at the tragic fate of the ship that was considered unsinkable, and now, 100 years later, this amazement seems to be alive more than ever.
On the 10th of April 1912 the RMS Titanic set sail for its maiden voyage in Southampton, carrying 2200 passengers of which most were travelling to the gateway of the New World, New York City. Being the largest and most prestigious luxury liner of its time, the Titanic charged first class passengers a hefty $4,350 (which corresponds to roughly $ 80,000 today), a fare that included such treats as access to the fully-equipped gym, the Turkish bath and the library. Ironically, it is the steamer’s dramatic collision with an iceberg only 5 days after its departure that made it go down in history. Around 1500 people lost their lives in the cold depths of the Atlantic Ocean, most of them third class passengers and crew members.
The large interest in the Titanic, its passengers and their stories manifests itself in a myriad of Titanic societies and organisations – many of them devote their work to unveiling such details as how many newly-wed couples were on board or what seasickness cures were available. At the same time, the sinking of the Titanic has become an emblem for the consequences of human arrogance, an attitude marked by an unconditional reliance on modern technology. Luxury and reputation outweighed concerns for safety, a bitter truth that is best reflected in Titanic’s disproportionate equipment: the 20 life boats paled next to the 1000 oyster forks and 8000 cigars.
This week has seen several events for the centennial anniversary of the catastrophe. Not only did people in New York and Southampton gather to commemorate the victims, but also on the very spot the Titanic sank – a service offered by special memorial cruises. In Belfast, the birth place of the luxury liner, a new museum in the shape of the ship’s massive hull has opened its doors, promising visitors “the world’s largest Titanic experience”. The UNESCO has announced that the shipwreck lying some 13,000 feet under water is to come under cover of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. To top things off, the film industry could not resist releasing a 3D version of Cameron’s Titanic. No less than $ 18,000,000 were spent to convert the film into a visual spectacle, which reportedly took longer than the original shooting itself.

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