Directed by James Cameron, Titanic is his masterpiece; beautiful, haunting, and heartbreaking. Titanic is a masterwork, with all the pieces deftly moving towards the inevitable sinking of the doomed ocean liner. Sure, people say ‘the boat sinks’, but it is the journey to that inevitable conclusion that pulls you in and keeps you enraptured.
When Jack wins his steerage ticket aboard Titanic in a card game, he feels he is the luckiest man alive. When he meets Rose, an engaged first class passenger, they form an unlikely romance; all the more unlikely due to class distinctions in the early 20th century.
This has been one of my favorite movies since it’s initial theatrical release in 1997. I believe I saw it in the theater at least 4 times, maybe 5. At the time, I felt that the romance was lacking and it wasn’t believable. Overly melodramatic. As I watched this again yesterday, I found that the love story between Jack and Rose does actually work. Perhaps I am getting less jaded as I grow older.
A problem I had initially was the Jack Dawson character, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. I didn’t buy his character at all. Upon this viewing, I noticed that he actually was acting, and doing a remarkable job. While he wasn’t the huge star he is now, I knew who he was and had seen him in other films. I think his baby faced, pretty boy looks really threw a lot of people off, me included. Nowadays, there are very few ‘rough n tumble’ male actors out there. We have Robert Pattinson and a whole slew of ex-Disney Channel stars that are supposed to make you believe they are the epitome of masculinity. Leonardo DiCaprio in 1997 fit in with them. After being subjected to such ‘pretty boy’ actors, my viewpoint on him in this movie has changed. I did not find him as annoyingly ‘sissy’ as I did before and could appreciate what he brought to the role of a free spirited artist just trying to get home to America.
Kate Winslet has never been more lovely. She is a strikingly beautiful woman in this film. She also gave a wonderful performance as the spoiled little rich girl who is fascinated by Jack’s ‘tumble weed in the wind’ ways. She is longing for the freedom that Jack can give her, all the while being emotionally suffocated and brow-beaten by her fiance, Cal (Billy Zane).
One thing this movie does incredibly well is show how life really was for people in the early 20th century and the class distinction that was prevalent. While it never really focuses and slaps you in the face with it, class distinction is a very important part of this film, and why so many people actually died during the sinking of the Titanic. At one point in the film, after Jack saves Rose, he is invited to dinner by Cal to reward him for saving Rose. When he shows up to dinner dressed to the nines, Cal looks at him, nods, and walks on, never noticing that it is the steerage passenger he had invited to dinner. This one simple scene says an amazing amount about the class separation. He never even bothered to notice what Jack looked like to remember him for the dinner.
The musical score is still simply one of the finest scores ever composed for film. It strikes all the chords; cheery, heartbreaking, devastating. It is without a doubt one of the best, if not the best. Combined with the image of Titanic on screen, this is powerful music that should speak to you in your soul. James Horner has created his masterpiece with this film.
I do have to say that this is the first time that I have seen a film in 3D and felt that it actually helped the film. While these post-conversion 3D efforts have been hit and miss (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was a hit, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was a miss), this was a big hit. The 3D actually enhanced the movie-going experience. It added the depth to the film that made you feel as though you were living it, not just being an outside observer. I feel that the inclusion of the 3D enhanced my emotional journey through the film, and it certainly added to the feeling of disaster and hopelessness inherent to this film. I can say with absolute certainty that, having seen this movie perhaps 10-15 times, this was the most emotional I have ever been while watching this. I feel that it was due to the 3D.
The Imax presentation was equally impressive. Having only seen one film in Imax prior (The Dark Knight), I found that the immense screen size and thunderous sound that shook the concrete was only fitting for a film of such scale. I would recommend anyone to check this out in Imax, if possible. The sense of depth and distance you get with Imax, combined with a masterful 3D post-conversion propels you into the movie. You are living the events onscreen, not just a member of an audience.
On a personal note, seeing this film in the theater again was something of a strange emotional journey for me. On one hand, this is one of my favorite films of all time. There was a great feeling of nostalgia involved with getting to see one of my favorite films on the big screen again. On the other hand, this was also one of the favorite films of my step-father, who passed away in December. As I sat in the theater and the lights went down, when the trailers finished, I was gripped by a slight bout of melancholy. I really wished he could have been there with me too see this film on the big screen.
Movie **** out of ****
- ‘Titanic 3D’: Why the 3D Quality Really Doesn’t Matter (hollywood.com)