All it takes to get our tear ducts working are the first four notes of “My Heart Will Go On.” The 1997 epic Titanic will forever be a romantic classic—but nothing’s perfect.
When you’re making a movie this big, some things are going to slip through the cracks. Titanic’s budget of $200 million was considered pretty titanic itself in 1997. Despite what we assumed was a well-paid team of continuity staff, the film has several anachronisms, shots of the crew, and good old-fashioned continuity errors. You just have to know where to look.
Here are a few of the subtle errors found in this not-so-subtle film.
1. Pretty much every map on board director James Cameron’s Titanic is an anachronism.
They’ve got all the continents right, but those world maps show borders of nations as they appear in 1997, not as they were in 1909. It’s a small quibble, sure, but pay special attention to scenes that take place in the radio room and the exercise suite.
Both of those rooms contain world maps. Spot the error once, and you’ll never be able to unsee it.
2. Jack’s rucksack wouldn’t have existed in 1909.
You remember the scene—it’s toward the beginning when the dreamy Jack is running toward the ship with his buddy, Fabrizio. Jack carries a large rucksack. Next time you watch Titanic, ignore Leonardo DiCaprio’s dreaminess and look closely at his bag.
It’s a standard-issue Swedish Army rucksack from the year 1939. We’re not sure how the IMDb contributor who pointed this out knows that, but let’s just assume that there are rucksack historians out there on the internet and move on.
3. Titanic famously included underwater footage of the actual wreck.
That created its own set of problems. Look at the safe in the 1909 scenes. Then review the shots of the actual safe aboard the real Titanic.
The one in the flashback is obviously not the same safe. It’s way bigger than the one in the modern-day footage.
4. Cameron even managed to get the dramatic sinking scenes wrong in small ways.
Compare the exterior shots of the sinking ship to the shots in the cabins—if you can stand to watch that devastating sequence again. Often, the Titanic itself will be at an angle to the surface of the ocean.
Somehow, though the water flooding into the rooms inside the ship is parallel to the ceiling, not pitched at the angle of the ship. So that’s disappointing.
5. Jack’s first visit to the grand staircase is flawed.
It’s still a great shot, and it would take a lot to diminish our enjoyment of this film. However, it’s one of the oldest movie-making errors in the game.
Watch the glass door leading to the room with the staircase carefully. You’ll see the reflection of a movie camera shining back at you.
6. We don’t want to ruin “I’m the king of the world!” for you, but we can’t help pointing this out.
There’s nothing wrong with the scene, exactly. The scene is perfect, and we will never stop shouting, “I’m the king of the world!” every time we ride our bicycles more than 2.5 mph. Nonetheless, take a look at the dolphins accompanying them during their imaginary coronation.
Those dolphins? They are Pacific white-sided dolphins even though the Titanic was sailing the Atlantic Ocean. What we’re saying here is that James Cameron bought the wrong dolphins.