Cert: 12 Runtime: 194 mins Director: James Cameron Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Bill Paxton, Bernard Hill, Gloria Stuart, Kathy Bates and Ioan Gruffudd
It is unsinkable. God himself could not sink this ship
As the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic will be marked, James Cameron has re-released his Oscar winning Titanic in 3D. Back in 1997, Titanic was the film of the decade. Millions of people flooded to the cinema to watch this love story on the doomed ship, Cameron & co. grossed over $ 1 BILLION and received 11 Oscars including Best Director and Best Film. It truly is a TITANIC of a film, and will be a universal tribute to the 1,500 people lost at sea and it’s survivors. As a child I got really interested in the history of the ship and it’s passengers, so you could say I am a mini expert on the subject. Deep-sea explorer Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) has reached the most famous shipwreck of all – the Titanic. Emerging with a safe believed to contain a diamond called ‘The Heart of the Ocean’, he discovers the safe does not hold the diamond but a drawing of a beautiful woman wearing it. When Brock is later interviewed on TV, he shows the drawing to the cameras, and a 100-year-old woman named Rose Calvert (Gloria Stuart) living in Michigan recognizes the woman in the drawing – herself! On a visit to Brock’s explorer ship over the wreck, Rose tells her story of the Titanic and its ill-fated voyage. Engaged to a would-be steel magnate, Cal Hockley (Billy Zane), she boards the Titanic’s first-class suites with him and her mother in Southampton. Also boarding are Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his best friend Fabrizio De Rossi, after a lucky poker game wins them tickets in steerage. When Rose attempts suicide by jumping off the stern in third-class, Jack pulls her back onto the ship… and a bond is forged between them as Jack is invited by her into first-class the following day. Rose’s mother and Cal Hockley try desperate measures to keep them apart. But that strategy goes out the window when the Titanic collides with an iceberg, and due to a design flaw begins to sink – despite being proclaimed ‘unsinkable’. Now Rose and Jack must fight to stay alive, but is young Jack already doomed because of his lower status as a steerage passenger?
The reason the film is so good is because the two central characters are brilliantly written and acted. Leonardo DiCaprio became an instant heartthrob to girls around the world (something he apparently hated), and it’s not hard to see why. DiCaprio has everything to make the male lead of an epic romance work: he’s good-looking and talented (Winslet was honored with an Oscar nomination for her performance, although it’s hard to understand why DiCaprio was left out, because he equals her). Jack Dawson is an immensely likable guy. He falls hard for Rose, someone who he knows is clearly out of his league. But he’s so immensely likable that we want him to win Rose’s heart. His new lover, Rose, is no ordinary society girl, much as she tries. She can’t stand the rigidly controlled life she’s going to lead, and Jack is her escape. But while she may wear a corset, she’s no damsel in distress. She’s independent and tough. The romance works because Jack and Rose are meant for each other.Their supporting cast is excellent. The two most important supporting characters are Rose’s fiancée, Cal Hockley, and her mother, Ruth. Cal Hockley is a vicious snob with a constant sneer on his face. He comes from a wealthy family, and will do anything to get what he wants. He demands obedience from Rose, something she will not give (to anyone, much less Cal). Her mother, Ruth, is just as snobbish and cruel, but she’s also desperate. Their family was left virtually penniless, and she’s trying to save face. As cruel and despicable as they are, neither one becomes a caricature. Zane and Fisher should have dually been honored with awards for their acting. Bates is especially noteworthy as the delightfully brash “new money” Molly Brown.
“Titanic” was the most expensive film of the 20th century, and it’s clear that every penny was put to good use. “Epic” doesn’t begin to describe this movie. It’s huge in spectacle, and the sinking of the ship, which takes up the last half hour, is jaw-dropping. But that’s not the only place where the effects were used. We never get a sense that we’re looking at sets or CGI; from every frame of the ship, we believe that we are on the ship with the characters. Interesting note: Cameron actually went down to the wreckage and filmed footage there. But that doesn’t stop there. Cameron wrote a script that allows us to view every part of the ship (and in a way that’s plausible.James Cameron has long been considered a god of action movies, but this is the first time his skills were honored. Not only is Cameron a wizard with special effects, he is also a master storyteller. “Titanic” is a long film (as all epics are), but not one of the 3+ hours of footage is wasted. The film moves, and there is never a dull spot. He knows the speed at which a person gets involved in the story, and uses this to his advantage. But the biggest accomplishment is that he makes the romance, one of the most difficult genres to dabble in, work with immense effectiveness. The romance burns up the screen, so much that we’re more concerned with Jack and Rose’s fates than we are taking in the sight of the sinking ship. And the scene where Jack draws Rose’s picture is potently erotic (especially for a 12 rated movie, which shows not real nudity or sex, but it is strongly implied).I realize that I am not writing this to people who haven’t seen the movie (are there such people?). I am writing it to those who are now convinced that this is a sappy and painfully bad film. I assure you: it’s as good as it was the first time you saw it.