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The "snarky" criticism James Cameron recieved for 'Titanic'


They say everyone’s a critic, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the world of filmmaking. A director could dedicate their whole life to making their latest historical drama as accurate as possible. They could spend a whole year reading books on rigging or the fashions of the regency period, but there’s always going to be somebody waiting to point out the flaws of their creation. Titanic director James Cameron learned this the hard way when he recieved a particularly pedantic criticism from none other than Neil deGrasse Tyson

Now, it’s one thing to point out an inaccuracy, but it’s quite another to get the director to actually change the scene. Being one of America’s most famous astrophysicists, Tyson had sizable leverage when he decided to forward a distinctly snooty email to Cameron about Titanic.

Overall, the film is pretty historically accurate. Then again, considering the majority of the ship’s crew and passengers ended up perishing in the icy waters of the Atlantic, we’ve not got a huge amount to go on. We know where the Titanic was built, its layout and the various types of people who were on board. Cameron even had a pretty solid idea of how the ship sank and how long it took.

But none of that was good enough for Tyson, who noticed something about the film that few others would have recognised. In one scene, Tyson observed that the stars didn’t resemble the starscape that would have been in the sky at the time: “Neil deGrasse Tyson sent me quite a snarky email saying that, at that time of year, in that position in the Atlantic in 1912, when Rose is lying on the piece of driftwood and staring up at the stars, that is not the starfield she would have seen,” Cameron told Cinema Blend.

Anyone else would have laughed at the cheek of it all, but something about Tyson’s criticism got to Cameron. “With my reputation as a perfectionist, I should have known that and I should have put the right star field in. So I said ‘All right, send me the right stars for that exact time and I’ll put it in the movie.” Cameron stayed true to his promise and changed the scene in time for the film’s 2012 re-release. So the next time you watch Titanic, just imagine Neil deGrasse Tyson sitting in an empty cinema quietly smiling to himself.