On the set of James Cameron’s 1997 romantic disaster film Titanic, I presented the beginnings of an alternate script I had worked up overnight. The director looked at it as if it were ridiculous, for which is was, but read it anyway:
A person from 2015 builds his own time machine and sets the date to April 12, 1912, the date of the Titanic’s maiden voyage. Of course, the guy has to look the part, so he researches and looks for clothes from the early 1900s, and is dressed like a dignified Englishman in time to arrive on the dock at Southampton. He even has an authentic ticket produced to reside in first class, for which he certainly is not of, but no one would be able to prove it otherwise.
Narration from the time traveler:
It was one of the most glorious and grandest ships in the world, and in early 1912, I was aboard it. The RMS Titanic, set to embark on a voyage to America. I was to reside in the bottom dorms of the ship, known as steerage, after mistakenly having a third class ticket produced, getting on with just one suitcase and trying to not act too modern (there was a smartphone in my backpocket for taking pictures and maybe wowing the passengers later on).
While walking the deck, I met a friend named Jack Dawson who was an excellent artist. He showed me some of his paintings, including those of women he met in Paris, many of them nude. Instead of waiting for the right moment, I warned him right there that the ship was to sink on its third day. He looked at me in disbelief and laughed and said I was crazy. “What makes you think that?”, he asked. “This is the best ship in the world. It can’t sink!”
“I can assure you that this ship is not built to withstand even a mild collision,” I replied and added, “you all are ignorant of the fact that sailing out on the Atlantic Ocean into the night is as dangerous as ever with communication so far away.”
“You all know that this ship is going to sink?”, Jack later asked during his dinner with Rose and her rich royalty, frightening everyone.
“What makes you think that?”, asked Cal with skepticism. “A friend told me. He says he’s from the future.” Of course, they all looked shocked at this statement.
“From the future? And you believe him?,” Cal said, casting a sideways glance at the person seated next to him, who too couldn’t believe this, his moustache twitching nervously.
“Well, if it means saving all our lives, I would say so.” They all just shrugged and dismissed all of the foolishness Jack said during the rest of the dinner as “hogwash”.
But after notifying the crew, they promptly took my advice to prepare for the worst, even getting a call out to another ship to come to their rescue if needed.
And just as it was to happen, the look out crew spotted the deadly iceberg on the chilly night of the 15th and had enough time to maneuver the ship past it after knowing about it far in advance. They, Jack and Rose, and some of the other passengers, including first class, all looked at me in astonishment. Some thanked me graciously, some patted me on the back, some looked at me as if I was an alien from another world, even if I was dressed like them.
“Is there anything else you know about the future?”, the Captain asked. “Of course. I’m from it,” I said and then added, “You guys really need to learn about Facebook.” And with that, I pulled out my smartphone and took a selfie with me and the Captain together, who looked at the device curiously.
So now the ship has been saved and history changed:
Jack lived and went on to marry Rose in America, raising a family in a Wisconsin log cabin. Cal was thrown in prison for attempting to murder Jack, eventually committing suicide by hanging himself. The Titanic went on a second voyage back to England in 1913, not avoiding the iceberg this time, as fate was angry and sprouted up an array of iceberg blockages. The ship hit one of the blockages head on though and survived the impact, the operators taking my advice to do so. A fire eventually broke out in the boiler-room, damaging but not sinking the ship in 1914. Instead of James Cameron’s movie being about the disaster of the Titanic, it was about a time traveler who goes back to warn the passengers and does the incredible. And about a ship that is cursed and narrowly avoids disaster every time it sails.
“Okay, this sounds great and all, but I’m not producing sci-fi here,” James Cameron said to me. “Please take your script somewhere else, maybe to Joss Whedon or Steven Spielberg.”
And so I did, and way and behold, Spielberg loved it so much (I think he was drinking something) that I worked on the script some more, working it into an official full length script. The movie was produced and was officially named “Back to the Future: Part IV: Saving the Titanic”. Michael J. Fox was even so excited that he agreed to reprise his role as Marty, his illness seeming to be magically cured. Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown even suggested turning the ship into a time machine boat.
And then I woke up. All just a dream.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fourth Wall.”
You get to spend a day inside your favorite movie. Tell us which one it is — and what happens to you while you’re there.