The fatal romance between Rose and Jack in James Cameron’s Titanic has made hundreds of millions of viewers cry around the world. But in the film there is also another love story, authentic and equally touching …
If James Cameron’s Titanic has long been an absolute unsinkable at the worldwide box office, at least until the interested party fails himself with Avatar, the legendary ship has dramatically belied its reputation as unsinkable by sinking in the night between 14 and April 15, 1912, less than three hours after the collision with an iceberg.
Sinking deep into the frozen waters, it ran aground at a depth of 3,843 meters, 650 km southeast of Newfoundland. People died between 1490 and 1520, making this event, whose 110th anniversary is commemorated today, one of the largest maritime disasters in peacetime and the largest for its time. The France 5 channel also dedicates a documentary to him this evening, Titanic: autopsy of a shipwreck.
Since the year of the release of Cameron’s film, 24 years ago, we imagine that logically you should have seen it, and surely you have cried hot tears in the face of the love tragically thwarted by the fate between Rose and Jack.
But if hundreds of millions of viewers are heartbroken by the fate of their fledgling romance, which ultimately involves two fictional characters, the “real” romance may not be there, where we necessarily expect it. …
You will probably remember this heartbreaking sequence in which a couple of elderly passengers, curled up on the bed in their cabin, await death as the freezing water invades all the corridors and cabins. All to the rhythm of music, even heartbreaking, of Closer to you my God…
Sequence of emotions below. Take out your handkerchiefs …
Extremely rigorous and attentive to authenticity, the director fed his film abundantly with completely authentic characters and authentic sequences, such as the one in which the ship’s captain, Edward J. Smith, refused to abandon ship and sank at the controls of his liner.
The misfortune of wealthy passengers
The elderly and embraced couple is none other than Ida and Isador Straus. Of German origin and married in 1871, the couple had emigrated to the United States where they had made a fortune. Isidor Straus was, among other things, one of the owners of Macy’s department stores, but also a representative of the 15th district of New York State to the United States Congress. It was a coincidence that he and his wife found themselves traveling aboard the Titanic, also in first class.
After a trip to Europe and Germany, the couple had to return to New York by taking another ship, the RMS Olympics, which was smaller in size than the Titanic. But the ship’s departure was delayed, so the Strauss changed their plans to take a ticket for the Titanic’s inaugural cruise.
The couple in the photo, taken around 1910-1911:
When the order to evacuate the ship was announced, priority was given to women and children. Aged and first-class passengers on top of that, Strauss had a chance to get away with it, even though the ship had not dramatically provided enough lifeboats …
Paul A. Kurzman, the couple’s great-grandson, will tell this family memory in 2017 : “My great-grandmother Ida got into the lifeboat hoping her husband would follow her. When she didn’t follow her, she was very worried and the ship’s officer in charge of lowering this particular lifeboat said,” Well, Mr. Straus, you are an old man … and we all know who you are … Of course you can board the lifeboat with your wife. “
But Isidor Straus refused to board the lifeboat as long as he did “every woman and child aboard the ship was not on a rubber dinghy”. His wife understands: if he has to die, she will die with him. “We spent forty wonderful years together, if you don’t want to get in that canoe, then neither do I.” she allegedly told him, according to the account of her maid, Ellen Bird, that she survived the tragedy.
The sequence will also be resumed in a scene from the film, finally cut during editing. “Where are you going, I’m going! Don’t argue with me, Isidor, you know it’s no use.”
Ellen Bird will thus take her place in the lifeboat, carrying the fur of her mistress on her shoulders, the last parting gift: “I won’t need it anymore. Take it in the lifeboat to keep you warm until you are rescued.” Ida Straus told him.
The two were last seen on the deck of the Titanic, holding hands, before a wave caused by the sinking of the ship engulfed them. Contrary to what James Cameron shows in the film of him, and although the images of him are emotionally very strong, they are not intertwined deaths on their cabin bed. Isidor’s body will be rescued a few days later, but his wife’s has never been found. Nor that of John Farthing, their butler.
Their deaths will make headlines in the United States, like this title in the Denver Post of April 19, 1912 : “Mr. and Mrs. Straus sank their intertwined arms.” The remains of Isidor Straus will be buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in New York. Ellen Bird, their maid, died in 1949.
A superb bronze funerary sculpture in homage to the couple, made by the acclaimed American artist Henry Augustus Lukemanis located in New York, at the intersection of Broadway and West End Avenue.
Below is a photo of the sculpture, taken on April 15, 2012, when the 100th anniversary of the sinking was commemorated: