Memories of James Cameron's "Titanic" are flooding back to me now.
Unbelievable that ten years have passed since the big ship landed in
theaters in 1997. The buzz was that it was going to be a major financial
disaster. Why would anyone want to watch a three-hour epic about a sinking
ship? We already know what happened on that fateful night. What was the
point of revisiting it? That's what the feeling was about the pending
release of "Titanic."
I saw the film with my wife at the Mann Village in Westwood, CA, on opening
weekend. As we walked up to the line already gathering around the theater, I
heard two guys saying that the movie was a mess. They had just seen it. They
couldn't believe that Cameron finally failed. Being a James Cameron fan at
the time, I wanted to sit through the film regardless.
The theater was packed and the audience didn't know what to expect. After
three hours, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. My wife leaned over to me,
tears in her eyes, and said, "That was awesome." I looked around the
theatre. Lots of sniffling and lots of tear wiping. I chuckled. Not a tear
was shed from my eyes. That's not because I'm a manly guy or that I
necessarily hate a bit of romance in a movie. I just didn't buy the whole
Jack & Rose bit. The film became a huge hit and won a ton of Oscars.
"Titanic" is back on DVD in a new 2-DVD set.
As much as it's funny to make fun of "Titanic" today, there wasn't a hit
film like it in years. People kept going back to see it over and over again.
The last film that caused people to eat up a film was "E.T." Cameron's ode
to the ship and its imaginary couple of Jack & Rose sparked something in
audiences. Maybe it was the convoluted love story that worked. Maybe it was
the then-spectacular visual effects. Maybe it was Celine. Maybe audiences
just plain loved "Titanic." I worked with a woman who saw the film at least
ten times when it was in release. She'd get misty eyed talking about the
movie. It touched her.
The film really needs no explanation. A street rat named Jack (Leonardo
DiCaprio) meets an upper-class girl named Rose (Kate Winslet) on a voyage on
the world's largest ship, Titanic. She's about to get married to a rich snob
(Billy Zane). She's unhappy with him and her mother's (Frances Fisher)
meddling ways. Rose learns a lot on this voyage. Jack shows her how to spit
over the side of the boat. She learns to free herself by not only throwing
herself into Jack's arms, but how to pose nude for Jack. Like most young
women of the era, she'd rather dump a rich guy for a guy she just met. Does
Jack learn anything? Nah. He's a really smart guy. He knows how the ship is
going to tip after it has hit the iceberg. James Bond has nothing on Jack.
The character of Jack is almost too perfect. He's like a hero from a romance
novel. Streetwise, yet refined when he needs to be. He was more resourceful
than MacGyver, able to escape bad situations with no problem. A total
gentleman, yet a great dancer. His late-90s hair was always perfect, even
when he was turning into a Jack-cicle. And what a buddy! The moment he sees
Rose, he ditches his Italian stereotypical bud, Frabrizio (Danny Nucci).
I'm not sure what bothered me most about Jack, then and now. Was it
Leonardo? Perhaps. He's always struck me as too much of an intense actor. I
thought he was excellent in a little seen film called "This Boy's Life"
(1993), though the film bothered me with the child abuse. But his range of
acting reminds of Tom Cruise. Be intense! Smile at the girl and make her
fall in love with you. Yell at someone and make your eyes bug out! Repeat.
Or maybe it was because women, including my wife, swooned over him. Come on.
I'd sacrifice myself into the cold Atlantic for you. I guess in today's
modern world, no one likes a gentleman who opens doors or sinks to the
bottom of the ocean for you anymore. Well, except if that gentleman is
Rose is another interesting character in "Titanic." Winslet indeed acts well
in this role. She's cute eye candy for three hours. Lovely and beautiful,
her life is tough. So what if your mom's trying to pawn you off to a wealthy
buffoon (played by Billy Zane)? Don't run across Titanic and try to jump
ship. Enjoy the ride for a little while, then dump the guy. Rose set the
precedent for all those young bimbos on reality shows like "The Hills." Life
is so rough and confining when you're rich, or might marry into money. She
decides to chuck it all for this total stranger named Jack. My guess is that
Jack must've been really good in the car, because Old Rose (Gloria Stuart)
still remembers her one night stand with him after all these years! Other
questions came up for me during "Titanic." What happens if he dumps you,
Rose, after you've reached New York? And what if Jack looked like, oh, Jack
Black, would Rose have blindly run away with him? So many questions. The
movie is fantasy, I know. I should have, and should, just enjoy the movie
for what it is.
Watching the movie again on DVD brought back more memories from the winter
of '97. Remember how Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" sounded beautiful
at first, then got on your nerves very soon after? It did for me. I couldn't
escape that damned song no matter where I went. It was on everywhere. In my
car. On the television. On the speaker above my head playing Muzak at work.
Dion, who had some moderate hits before this movie, suddenly became a
"diva." I was reminded of another movie song that got stuck in my head.
There was a silly movie called "You Light Up My Life" which spawned a song
of the same name. Now that song is stuck in your head. Sorry about that.
I'll admit that I saw "Titanic" twice, mainly because I thought that the
sinking of Titanic was well executed. Cameron (and crew) staged this portion
of the movie with such excellence that I overlooked, at least for a little
while, the soap opera that preceded it. The film was also shown in 70mm and
I recall the prints at the Mann Village and Mann Chinese (Hollywood) looked
spectacular. This was an epic movie and it played well on the widescreen.
The sinking of Titanic was worth the price
The mixture of chaos, a loud soundtrack and visual effects made for an
entertaining section of the film. The people I felt bad for were the poor
passengers who lost their lives on the real Titanic, not Jack.
As a technical lightshow, "Titanic" shoots and scores.
Today, though, the digital people falling off the aft of the ship into the
propeller blades doesn't look fresh. The CGI Titanic was almost completely
believable back in '97, but today shows its age. The effects were quite an
accomplishment of their time. What stands out for me is the production
design. Apparently, Cameron was a stickler for detail and it shows on
screen. The sets are lush and filled with life and the ship does feel like
it's making its maiden voyage. Too bad the real ship met an untimely end.
My opinions about a ten year-old blockbuster won't sway anyone from watching
it for the first time, or for the hundredth time. The movie is entertaining.
If anything, if you're in the camp of "Titanic" haters, the picture and
sound quality of this new DVD is excellent. You can watch it as a home
theater demo DVD. If you're in the camp of "Titanic" lovers, this DVD set
will blow your socks off, and make you reach for the tissue box once again.
Special thanks to Click Communications
Photos: © Paramount/20th Century Fox. All rights reserved.
Ocean liner big on spectacle, schmaltzy on
the love story
Director: James Cameron
Cast: Leo, Kate, Billy and a Big Giant
Lots of commentary, behind-the-scenes
featurettes, and Celine
The digital effects don't look as
pretty as they once did, but still impressive
The sets are spectacular
Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
DVD RELEASE DATE
November 20, 2007