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Wednesday December 19th 2018

Titanic | 1997

Fourteen Academy Award nominations, eleven wins – tying with William Wyler's Ben-Hur for top Oscar winner of all time.

The vast Titanic set was constructed, in 100 days, as a fully-functioning studio at Rosarito Beach, 18 miles south of Tijuana on the Mexican coast of Baja California, though not without a wave of protest from local residents. The facility remains as the Baja Studios, claiming to be the world's largest stages and filming tanks. Among the productions which have used the studio are Tomorrow Never Dies, Deep Blue Sea, Pearl Harbor and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. For a while, there was a studio tour but that's not currently operating.

Footage of the real Titanic wreck on the floor of the North Atlantic is used in the opening scenes. Twelve dives were made down to the hulk of the ship, and on the last two the remotely operated camera, intended only as a prop, went deeper into the ship than any other previous dive.

The film's engine room is the Triple Expansion Engine of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Launched on 19 June 1943, the ship made four round-trip convoy crossings of the Atlantic and was part of the invasion fleet armada on D-Day, the Normandy landings, in 1944.

You can tour the craft, which had previously been used in sci-fi epic Sphere, including the Engine Room.

Scenes for the ending were filmed in the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool, which stood at 4000 Olympic Plaza in Long Beach, south of Los Angeles. Once dubbed the 'Taj Mahal of swim stadiums', the venue opened in 1968 but, in 2014, after being declared seismically unsafe, it was demolished.

The wreck of RMS Titanic, in two main pieces about a third of a mile apart, lies beneath the North Atlantic about 370 miles southeast of the coast of Newfoundland, at a depth of 12,500 feet.

Most of the bodies recovered after the disaster were buried in Halifax, capital of Nova Scotia, in the Atlantic Provinces. 150 are buried in three cemeteries: Fairview, Mount Olivet and Baron de Hirsch. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, houses a permanent exhibition devoted to Titanic.

James Cameron draws on elements the excellent 1958 low-key British account of the disaster, A Night To Remember, which presents the events without too much added melodrama.