This is a story of Titanic that has never been heard of before, as a former sailor mouse named Top Conners recounts his experience of the ship on her maiden voyage. While Top Conners and his friend Ronnie are working as crew for the mice passengers on the ship, a young lady named Elizabeth and her father arrive as two of the passengers. Elizabeth is engaged to a high class business man named Maltravers, much to her dislike of the man, and rightfully so as he wants to take advantage of the engagement so he can get his father’s ocean rights for whale hunting. However this plan might not go as planned as Elizabeth and a lower classed Spanish musician named Don Juan fall in love. There’s a giant octopus, several talking mice, magic dolphins and gangster sharks, this is the Legend of the Titanic.
While made by different people, this film has a similar development origin history to the Titanic: The Legend Goes On by Camillio Teti, another animated Titanic movie made to cash in on James Cameron’s multimillion award winning film. It was produced and distributed to Mondo TV, an Italian based animation Production Company that normally works with Asian animation studios, and are most famous for working on the mid-1990s anime Kaiketsu Zorro (not to be mistaken with Kaiketsu Zorori), which was apparently huge in Spain and Italy, where it was known as “The Legend of Zorro”. For this film they worked with SEK Animation Studio from North Korea. Despite having an Italian and German theatrical release and a German DVD release, this film is very obscure, more obscure than Titanic: The Legend Goes On, even after its 1999 release.
The animation is tolerable, which is saying something considering the film itself. The design is consistent and unlike The Legend Goes On, but that doesn’t forgive the choppy animation, unnecessary speedups and noticeable animation flubs that really shouldn’t have gone unnoticed. It also doesn’t help that the colour scheme is quite dull and to compare, for a film made in the late 90s it visually looks like mid 80’s work. The character designs are generic, clearly showing inspirations from Don Bluth but they don’t produce an eyesore from watching. There are quite a few scenes of CG which look really dull and out of place, it’s easy to tell that it doesn’t blend in well with the traditional animation and the scenes add nothing but fancy flying shots. But despite all that, it’s tolerable, I never really found any problems with the visuals that made me stop watching or deterred me.
The music is very dull and generic, although it doesn’t really tip-off from Titanic as it does other kids animated films. I give credit for having actual themes that vary over the course of the film, instead of having six tracks repeated throughout, but it’s limited and lacks any attempt being memorable with its weak melodies and a lack of range.
The voice acting is simply annoying and awful. There are many kinds of bad voice acting, but they can be enjoyable if it’s obvious they aren’t taking it seriously and making it fun, they can even be tolerable if there was direction and good writing. But with this film, the dialogue feels poorly rushed and has a bad habit of adding sounds to any action the characters make. On a positive side, all the human characters are tolerable and Greg Snegoff as Maltravers is the best voice actor in this movie, making the two dimensionally designed antagonist sound like an upper class English gentlemen like the rip-off of Titanic’s Cal Hockley. The animals have really annoying voices in comparison, being either whiney or ear scraping. I’m not sure what the Italian or German dubs sound like, and there is some evidence of a non-English cast, since I haven’t found any clips of them, so for most people you have no choice but to go with the English version.
Since talking about the story of this film is very easy to summarise, I’d like to use this paragraph to briefly explain something about storytelling in films, the historical/adaptive story issue. If watching any war movies alone has taught movie goers something, the strength of the term “based on a true story” for a film, book or TV-show is proportional to the target age group of that story telling medium. Even if it is made to be suitable for all ages, good directors and good writers know that if they make a film for mature adults, they need to take their source material seriously. Even if it is only based on actual historical events, if the film was made for more mature audiences, there’s a good chance the content of the film is believable for that time setting and place. On the other hand films that are mainly targeted towards teenagers and especially kids have toned down the story so that it’s more loosely based on the story, such as the case with Hercules, because it’s hard to market a Disney Kid’s movie if the content describes the actual killings in the Greek Mythology. However, just because you have to tone down a story so censors and marketers are happy doesn’t mean you have to change major events to suit to their liking, or to bring a certain message across.
With that said, The Legend of the Titanic doesn’t just tone down the events of the Titanic, it completely changes it around to the point where it’s offensive. The first sign that this film shows no care for the original source material, no one dies, and I’m not kidding, yet they still refer it to being an infamous disaster. Second, the sinking isn’t caused by an accidental crashing into an iceberg due to poor warnings and detection; it was because a gang of criminal sharks convinces a giant octopus to throw an Iceberg at the ship. Third, all of this is because Maltravers wants to get rights to whale hunting, something that is entirely unrelated to the Titanic, but what they did with the events of the Titanic isn’t the only bad thing in this film. The romance between Don Juan and Elizabeth is cliché and very poorly executed, especially since Don Juan is a bland character anyway and they have very few scenes together. The most bizarre thing, is how they explain how Elizabeth and Don are able to talk to animals, apparently tears can set off a net of magic moonbeam and with a little extra magic from dolphins, which causes both humans and animals to communicate with each other. Why should I bother to continue?
At least with Titanic: The Legend Goes On, the guys knew that they were making a Titanic film, so they tried to recognise the tragic events of the ship sinking and the deaths of those on board, they may have failed, but they tried. I don’t think anyone working on this film even bothered, they just saw a majorly successful film and thought they could trick some kids and parents into paying for their version. I think whoever made this is relieved this film went into obscurity during its original release, because I wouldn’t imagine a film that denies the death of over a thousand people in one of the worst cruise ship disasters in history wouldn’t have gone over so well if it didn’t.
The Legend of Titanic is available from Mondo TV and Adriana Chiesa Enterprises. It’s incredibly hard to believe, but a sequel titled Tentacolino which was produced in 2003 is also available from Mondo TV, but if you couldn’t survive this film, then you have no chance of making through this film.