Tuesday, May 28, 2013

923. TITANIC (1997)

Running Time: 194 minutes
Directed By: James Cameron
Written By: James Cameron
Main Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart
Click here to view the trailer


Yes, I'm watching backwards a little bit out of order, because my wife wanted to watch this one with me last night and so I jumped around a little bit. Don't worry though, even if I'd gone in perfect order, I'd have still gotten to "Titanic" by the end of this season.

I think, by now, we all know the story of the RMS Titanic, which set sail from England in 1912 and was billed as the "unsinkable ship". Therefore, I won't worry so much with detailing the part of the film that deals with the sinking and instead focus on the fictional part of the movie, which deals with a romance between socialite Rose DeWitt Bukater (Winslet) and drifter Jack Dawson (DiCaprio). After the prologue, which details a crew of men scouring the Atlantic Ocean, sifting through the rubble of the Titanic and searching for the Heart of the Ocean (a diamond that's worth more than the Hope Diamond), we get narration from a now 101-year-old Rose Calvert, as she recollects the few days she spent aboard the RMS Titanic. Upon boarding the massive vessel, Rose is engaged to Cal Hockley (Zane), a wealthy businessman who is looking for a wife that will compliment his wealthy status and will obey him to a tee. Rose isn't particularly happy with Cal or their engagement, but her mother is hopeful that the relationship will work out, mainly because the Bukater women are broke. Enter Jack Dawson, a drifter who wins his Titanic tickets in a poker game and board the vessel on the 3rd class level. One evening, while taking in the night air, Jack sees Rose standing on the edge of the Titanic, ready to jump. He talks to her and gets her to come down and a romance is born. The two continue to see one another, despite Cal forbidding it. The romance buds and blossoms as the movie rolls on and as Titanic rolls toward the iceberg.


You know what I really hate about the "Titanic"? The fact that 50% of it is a completely made-up story. I mean, look, I know that there had to be a certain fictional element to the story, so that we, the audience, could connect to some of the characters when it came time for the Titanic to sink. However, that doesn't mean I have to like it! Have you ever looked at the figures and particulars on Cameron's work to make the Titanic and the movie "Titanic" look genuine? It's fascinating! The set of the ship was built to 90% scale to make it look as realistic as possible and according to THE BOOK, the replica was 775 feet and the real company, that provided the actual Titanic's furnishings, was hired, so that EVERYTHING down to the last chandelier was just as it was on the 1912 maiden voyage. So, in my head, to go so far out of your way to make this movie as authentic as possible and then to just make up two characters and throw them in there, is nonsense. And another thing...THE LENGTH!! Did "Titanic" actually have to have such a titanic running time? A part of me suspects that Cameron didn't want all of his hard work to go to a film that lasted any less than three hours long and so for the sake of making it all worthwhile, he made sure to produce a long picture. I really think that something around two to two and a half hours would've made everything a lot more succinct and lead to my further enjoyment of this movie.

Then again, maybe a part of the reason I didn't like "Titanic" (at first) was the fact that it is the most mainstream of all mainstream movies. For a long time, it was the highest grossing movie ever and I'm sure it still holds a lot of records for being this "titanically" big budgeted, grandiose, masterpiece. You see, the thing is, I see right through that Hollywood gloss. I don't usually like movies that do big box office numbers and commercial movies like this just (usually) don't appeal to me. But can I really hold that against this movie? What if we lived in a world where things in the movie industry were reversed? What if people went out of their way to see independent features and big budget movies like this were the ones that had a smaller, pickier audience? Then would I be more accepting of "Titanic"? I don't know...maybe, maybe not.

But the fact is, I did like this movie...when the ship started sinking. When Cameron actually gets into filming the actual sinking of the Titanic, that's when my attention got more focused. I mean, there are a few stories that I think EVERYBODY is at least somewhat interested in and the sinking of the Titanic is one of those stories. We've all heard the story. Hell, I remember reading passages in my grade school books about the Titanic. It's kind of like that special, unusual excitement you feel when you watch a movie that you've read the book to. You have a certain expectation, things you want to keep a lookout for and "Titanic" is kind of like the story that we've all read and I think we all had certain expectations for this movie that could have never been met. Maybe I'm rambling, I don't know. Anyway, the sinking of the ship is what the movies is all about. It's big, it's amazing, it's fascinating, it's a sight to behold and it's as close to actually being on one of the lifeboats and watching it really happen in 1912, as you can get. Say what you will about special effects and James Cameron, but he really put on a show in the second act and if you can watch that hour and a half piece of the boat's sinking and still have the gall to say "meh, it's so-so", then I don't know what to tell you.

In conclusion, if they'd just cut the love story between Jack and Rose in half and gave us only a spoonful of what we needed to feel an attachment to these characters and then got into the actual tragedy of the sinking boat, I think I would've taken to it A LOT more. Having Zane's character chase DiCaprio's character through a water filled ballroom, with gun in hand was just a little too overboard and proved that Cameron was really grasping at straws to add drama to a movie that came with the drama already included. I think I've rambled long enough.

RATING: 7/10  Is it possible that the battle for the "Ten Worth Mentioning" spots, in my next TOP 20, will be just as poignant as the actual TOP 20 list? There are approximately fifteen really good candidates for that section of the list and I'd call "Titanic" one of them.


May 28, 2013  11:45am


  1. Well.. I suppose this has to have a place in THE BOOK... all those 'biggest' records it holds.. and, tes, i suppose i agree it is one to have seen.
    (please excuse this comment, but, with all this obsession with size, one cannot help but speculate about the size of James Cameron's .. bits..).
    I also tend to strongly react against bombast, size, Hollywood spectacular, 'look at the size of my budget' pictures. It will come as no surprise whatsoever to you Andrew to read I much prefere 'A night to Remember'.
    Yes, I went to see it at the cinema when it first came out, and yes, it was a memorable afternoon, and there is no denying it is spectacular, and yes it kept me entertained for all it's length.
    But afterwards.. and when yoy catch bits on TV, you realise it is in fact very empty. I wanted to see more about the carpathia etc.
    But this is just me being a bit of a nerd.. Leave me alone with A Night To Remember.
    FOOTNOTE.. rather interesting is the German 1942 version called just 'Titanic'.. Which I have got... The whole thing was a plot by dastardly English capitalists to make money you realise. The story behind the making of that film is equally fascinating...

    1. haha hadn't thought about the size of Cameron's "bits", but you're right...it does make you wonder. I immediately added "A Night to Remember" to my watch list after watching "Titanic" and will surely see it someday...who knows when though.


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