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Why Murdoch’s family were offended by his portrayal

ByRandall B. Phelps

Mar 19, 2022

One of the Titanic characters based on real people was Will Murdoch, and his family was unhappy with how the movie portrayed him.

Although the main characters and the story of Titanic are fictional, it included characters based on real people, including First Officer William Murdoch, whose family was offended by the way the film portrayed him. James Cameron is best known for his work in the science fiction genre, with classics now like The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Dayand aliensbut one of his most important and memorable projects does not come from the world of science fiction: Titanica disaster drama released in 1997 that became the most expensive film ever made at the time.

According to accounts of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, Titanic tells the story of Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), two passengers of opposite social classes who fall in love aboard the ship on its ill-fated maiden voyage. Over the course of four days, Rose and Jack met, fell in love, and defended their relationship against anyone who tried to tear them apart, and through it all they met various characters based on real people. Some of them weren’t involved in the story of Jack and Rose, but played a key role in the most difficult part of the film: the sinking of the Titanic, and one of them was the first Officer William Murdoch (Ewan Stewart).


Related: James Cameron Corrected A Titanic Scene 15 Years After Its Release

Murdoch appears sporadically throughout the first two acts of Titanic and his presence grows greater as the ship hits the iceberg and begins to sink. Murdoch was put in charge of the bridge the night the ship hit the iceberg, and he’s the one mumbling “go, go, turn, turn” while the rest of the crew did their best to avoid the iceberg. Murdoch is later shown getting people onto the lifeboats as part of the ‘women and children first’ policy, but as the panic and tension grew, Murdoch ended up making things he immediately regretted. As the men tried to get onto the boats and began pushing towards them, Murdoch (along with other officers) drew a gun to steer the passengers away from the boats, and when Jack’s friend Tommy Ryan (Jason Barry) was pushed forward. , a panicked Murdoch shot him, killing him instantly. Shocked by what he did, Murdoch shot himself in the head.

William Murdoch in Titanic

Murdoch’s portrayal in Titanic ended up being that of a corrupt officer (as he first took a bribe from Cal Hockley to let him on a boat, though he later threw his money in his face) and a coward, and that obviously didn’t sit well with his family. Murdoch’s nephew, as well as the people of his hometown of Dalbeattie, objected to this depiction as damaging to Murdoch’s heroic reputation and demanded an apology. According to BBC News, Murdoch has been described by historians as having done his best to save as many passengers as possible by guiding them to the boats and even throwing deckchairs overboard so that those in the sea had something to do. what to cling to. A few months after the release of TitanicFox vice-chairman Scott Neeson traveled to Dalbeattie, Scotland to offer a personal apology to Murdoch’s nephew and presented a donation of £5,000 to Dalbeattie High School to bolster the William Murdoch Memorial Prize for school.

James Cameron apologized on DVD commentary Titanic and said his portrayal of Murdoch was that of an “honorable man” and not a “cowardly murderer” or a “man gone bad”. As for what really happened with Murdoch, he launched ten lifeboats and fired warning shots at the Foldable C during the loading process, and it was widely believed, according to multiple eyewitnesses, that he s was committed suicide after shooting one or two men during a lifeboat rush. Second Officer Charles Lightoller (played in Titanic by Jonathan Phillips), in a letter to Murdoch’s widow, said he was swept into the sea, although it is possible he lied to cover up the suicide, as he later admitted that someone one had committed suicide in the sinking. Titanic made many changes and additions to historical facts for the drama, but Cameron and company surely didn’t expect Will Murdoch’s portrayal to be controversial.

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