‘Downton Abbey’ Creator Julian Fellowes: James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’ Is An ‘Unfair’ Portrayal

Promises To ‘Set The Record Straight’ In New Mini-Series

on March 26 2012 2:46 PM
TITANIC STARS WINSLET AND DICAPRIO ARRIVE AT GOLDEN GLOBES
'Downton Abbey' creator Julian Fellowes said that James Cameron's blockbuster 'Titanic' was an "unfair" representation of the tragedy and was really just a "love story set against the backdrop of the Titanic." Reuters

'Downton Abbey' creator Julian Fellowes said that James Cameron's blockbuster 'Titanic' was an unfair representation of the tragedy and was really just a love story set against the backdrop of the Titanic.

A particular point of contention is the portrayal of William Murdoch, the first officer on the RMS Titanic who went down with the ship after launching the lifeboats that saved 75 percent of the lives on the ship.

Hailed as a hero, Cameron's version of the tragedy portrayed him as a cowardly man who shot passengers before taking his own life.

That was very unfair how Murdoch was depicted, said Julian Fellowes to RadioTimes magazine. He wasn't cowardly. He fired the pistol to just stop a potential riot. It was suddenly getting out of hand, and he fired it in the air. That's not being cowardly.

Fellowes aims to do right by Murdoch in his new adaptation of the Titanic story.

He told the magazine that as a writer he has a responsibility to the truth and to people.

I don't think you can do that, he said adding that you can't turn someone into a coward even when there's no evidence that they weren't cowardly. 

I think with real people you have a kind of imperative to be true to who they were. I don't think you can take someone who was moral and decent and make them do something immoral and indecent, he said to RadioTimes magazine. I would feel uncomfortable doing that. So we do have Murdoch, and we have him firing a pistol... [But] there is a little bit of setting the record straight. 

His four part mini-series aired Sunday on the U.K.'s ITV1. It is one of the most expensive mini-series to be made for British television.

Fellowes spent the last 5 years going through all the Titanic documents he could find, including the post-disaster hearings that occurred in New York and London.

The first episode of the series premiered Sunday. It had a budget of £11 million ($17.5 million). It received decidedly lukewarm reviews from critics.