To continue with our Titanic documentary blogs we will turn to another documentary on the Titanic. This time it is the Words of the Titanic. This documentary features the words and documents of the survivors of the Titanic played by a variety of actors and relatives of the survivors or crew members. It is narrated by Charles Dance.
New York and London were linked by the shipping routes. They were the richest cities in the world. Titanic would help maintain that link.
Second Officer Charles Lightoller kicks off the documentary discussing the sea trials of the Titanic. He said it took him fourteen days to learn to navigate the decks of the ship comfortably. He was Titanic’s second officer. He was proud to be a part of the ship’s crew. He talks about how there was a stop in the action when the Titanic hit the iceberg. It was an unexpected stop.
Violet Jessup was the second voice of the documentary. She moved to Ireland in search of work and she was a stewardess. She speaks about the crew and how they marveled about the ship and the areas of the ship. She was also a stewardess on the Olympic and a nurse on the Britannic. She is one of two survivors who sailed on all three ships. She was one of 900 crew members and she describes the crew as a big family. A steward grabbed a hold of Violet Jessup to get her onto the deck.
Lawrence Beesley was a second-class passenger who survived. He was on his first foreign trip. He paid 13 pounds, which is 1,000 pounds today for a second-class cabin. He gushes about the looks of the ship as well as the media activities on board before the voyage commenced. He talks about how the collision felt. He investigated what happened and was pointed to the iceberg. Beesley went out to investigate and was shocked to find that the deck was covered in ice.
Archibald Gracie, a first-class passenger, found the wealth on board the Titanic extravagant. He even suggested that the Almighty would want to punish the ship for the wealth. He discusses his daily activities including using the Titanic’s pool for swimming. It was the best swim he had ever had.
Elizabeth Schultes, a first-class passenger and a governess for a family discuss how cold it was and how it woke her up. It made her nervous. The crew members assured her that there was no danger. However, she was suspicious of his words and listened in on a conversation where the same crew member said that “They can keep the water out for a time.”
Charles Dance narrates the story of the Titanic in between the readings. He discusses the near incident with the ship New York. The weather was commented on, with an ominous tone. Then he talks about the unusual seas coming up. At about 20 minutes before midnight, the Titanic hit an iceberg. Titanic then sent out a distress call. Passengers were then shuffled out to the deck with their life jackets.
It is a fantastic documentary using primary sources to retell the story of the Titanic. The teacher could discuss the use of primary documents in historic research. It would be appropriate to show in April, however, I could foresee using this documentary at the start of the school year to teach how to use primary sources in research. You could use this documentary as inspiration for a potential assignment where students could do a video reading/acting out the primary sources they find.
Continue to watch this documentary to find out what happened and how the survivors got off or survived the Titanic.
You can access the YouTube video here.
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