Notorious perfectionist James Cameron met his match when a scientist sent him a “snarky” email about inaccuracies in his portrayal of the night sky in the original Titanic film.
Years ago, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson emailed Cameron, letting him know he’d dropped the ball by failing to research the correct star field for the time and date of the Titanic’s sinking. The 1997 film, which is rereleased in 3D glory this week, will contain a few edits addressing these highly specific details.
Tyson called one specific scene into question; Cameron told the Telegraph that the email stated “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 star field she would have seen.”
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As Mashable notes, in a panel discussion at St. Petersburg College in 2009, Tyson said that the public has all the information about where and when the ship sank to be able to draw up an accurate star map. In the scene, he says, Winslet “is looking up and there is only one sky she should have been looking at. The left side of the sky was a mirror of the right side of the sky. It wasn’t only wrong, it was lazy.”
Of course, in his email, Tyson was quick to acknowledge that Cameron should have known better precisely because he was known for his dedication to the minor details—which was possibly the best way he could’ve gotten the director to make the change. If you’re gonna call someone out and then proceed to ask them to do something for you, you’d be wise to appeal to their ego.
Cameron told Tyson to send him the right stars for the exact time (that would be April 15, 1912 at 4:20 a.m.), and that’d he’d put it in the 10th anniversary director’s cut version of the film, as well as the 3D rerelease.