Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bitter, Bitter Irony

Here's a trivia question for you. When the Titanic hit the iceberg, there was a silent-film screening going on aboard the ship. What were they showing?

(Jeopardy music)

(more Jeopardy music)

(Death Cab For Cutie, for some reason)

Time's up. The film played at the time the Titanic hit the iceberg was... The Poseidon Adventure.

Back in 1912, even silent films were a new thing- replacing nickelodeons and flip-card movies- and the Titanic wanted this brand spanking new thing on the ship. They decided to go with a nautical theme for the film selection, and The Poseidon Adventure was the film picked for night 5, April 14.

The passengers (the second-class ones, at least; films were considered too disreputable for first-class) loved it, as they did the first film shown on night 3, The Lighthouse Keeper, which ended up getting a double showing on night 4.

Most of the way through the showing, the ship went thud on the iceberg.

The film patrons didn't even notice. Or at least, they felt a minor thud that didn't seem like much. In fact, they asked for a second screening of Poseidon.

And so that's what they got. The viewers didn't notice that the Titanic was sinking until they got outside... and found almost all the lifeboats already gone.

116 out of the 285 in second-class survived. Surely at least one of the Poseidon viewers must have made it onto a lifeboat or else nobody would have been able to tell that story. But the number can't be high.

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