Photo: Paramount PicturesNot many people could claim director James Cameron's attention to detail. But with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the man has met his match.
The director of "Avatar" apparently made only one change to his re-release of the three-hour-plus drama "Titanic": the sky. And he did this following the incessant lobbying of one very annoying astrophysicist.
As recounted by Tyson, he noticed that in a pivotal scene with (SPOILER ALERT) Kate Winslet as Rose clinging to a piece of the boat under the night sky, the left half of the sky was a reflection of the right half. In other words, not the stars she would have seen that night, but a Hollywood fake-out.
Tyson mentioned the story at a panel discussion back in 2009, saying, "There she is looking up. There is only one sky she should have been looking at ... and it was the wrong sky! Worse than that, it was not only the wrong sky; the left half of the sky was a mirror reflection of the right half of the sky! It was not only wrong, it was lazy! And I'm thinking, 'This is wrong.'"
Since Cameron went to such lengths to get so many details of the ship and that night right, Tyson felt justified in complaining about the sky, even if the only people who notice the error are astronomers.
As James Cameron confirmed with Discovery, "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 (Kate Winslet) is lying on the piece of driftwood and staring up at the stars, that is not the star field she would have seen."
He added, "And with my reputation as a perfectionist, I should have known that and I should have put the right star field in." As the director told the U.K. magazine Culture, "So I said, 'All right, you (so and so), send me the right stars for the exact time, 4:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, and I'll put it in the movie.' So that's the one shot that has been changed."
The new 3D version of the film, with the right night sky, is out this week.
Watch clips from 'Titanic':