Titanic (1943)

Directed by: Werner Klingler
Herbert Selpin
Produced by: Willy Reiber
Written by: Herbert Selpin
Walter Zerlett-Olfenius
Production company: Tobis Filmkunst
Distributed by: UFA
Release dates: 10 November 1943
Running time: 85 minutes
Language: German
Budget: 4 000 000 Reichsmark


Sybille Schmitz: Sigrid Olinsky
Hans Nielsen: 1st Officer Petersen
Kirsten Heiberg: Gloria
E.F. Fürbringer: Sir Bruce Ismay
Karl Schönböck: John Jacob Astor
Charlotte Thiele: Lady Astor
Otto Wernicke: Captain Edward J. Smith
Franz Schafheitlin: Hunderson
Sepp Rist: Jan
Monika Burg: Maniküre Heidi
Jolly Bohnert: Marcia
Fritz Böttger: Lord Douglas
Hermann Brix: Head of Orchestra Gruber
Lieselott Klinger: Anne
Theodor Loos: Privy Councillor Bergmann
Karl Meixner: Hopkins


The film opens with a proclamation to the White Star stockholders that the value of their stocks is falling. The president of White Star Line J. Bruce Ismay promises to reveal a secret during the maiden voyage of the Titanic that will change the fate of the stocks. He alone knows that the ship can break the world record in speed and believes this will raise the stock value. Ismay and the board of the White Star plan to lower the stocks by selling even their own stocks in order to buy them back at a lower price. They plan to buy them back just before the news about the record speed of the ship will be published to the press.

The issue of capitalism and the stock market plays a dominant role throughout the movie. The hero of the film is fictional German First Officer Peterson (played by Hans Nielsen) on the ill-fated voyage of the British ocean liner RMS Titanic in 1912. He begs the ship’s rich, snobbish and sleazy owners to slow down the ship’s speed, but they refuse and the Titanic hits an iceberg and sinks. The passengers in first class are shown to be sleazy cowards while Peterson, his recently impoverished Russian aristocrat ex-lover Sigrid Olinsky (Sybille Schmitz), and other German passengers in steerage are shown: brave and kind. Peterson manages to rescue many passengers, convince Sigrid to get into a lifeboat, and saves a young girl, who was obviously left to die in her cabin by an uncaring, callous British capitalist mother. In the ship’s final death throes, Peterson leaps from the deck with the little girl still in his arms and is then pulled aboard Sigrid’s lifeboat and the occupants watch in horror: the Titanic plunges beneath the waves. The film ends with the British Inquiry into the disaster, where Peterson testifies against Bruce Ismay, condemning his actions, but Ismay is cleared of all charges and the blame is placed squarely on the deceased Captain Smith’s shoulders. The epilogue states that “the deaths of 1,500 people remain un-atoned, forever a testament of Britain’s endless quest for profit.”


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