Alright, it’s a little embarrassing to admit, but this is my nostalgia film. Titanic was the biggest box office film of my adolescence and at twelve years old, if you didn’t see Titanic you weren’t cool. As I prepared myself to re-watch what blew my mind twelve years ago, I was ready to rip it apart and spread my utter dislike for the egotistical James Cameron. What I didn’t expect was to simply find joy and remember why I loved this movie so much.
The film opens with what looks like old footage of Titanic setting sail, then present day submarine crews are exploring the wreckage showing us ghostly underwater images and haunting artifacts that remind us of the lives lost. They’re looking for a treasured necklace; The Heart of the Ocean, but instead they find a drawing. One hundred year old Rose (Gloria Stuart) sees the drawing on the news and recognizes herself in it. So she goes to the crew in the middle of the Atlantic and tells her story.
Rose (Kate Winslet) is our damsel in distress; young beautiful and engaged to a man she doesn’t love (Billy Zane). Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) is our poor and perfect young man that she falls in love with and only the looming tragedy of the unsinkable can break them apart. Let’s not forget about the ship drama, Captain Edward James Smith is being pressured to push the engine and arrive in New York early, which will be the cause of the wreck. Simple and lovely
This has everything chicks love: sweeping romance, tear jerker scenes, obvious dialogue, and excessive jewelry. And guys can stand it because there will be disastrous action, female nudity and the satisfaction that wonderboy will die. Sorry to give away the ending like that, but hasn’t everyone over the age of ten seen Titanic already? It’s your own fault by now.
I’m not going to let this film get off too easy. The dialogue is downright laughable at times, but that’s where some of those great lines that plagued remixes of “My Heart Will Go On” those dreaded months where it was played every ten minutes by every radio station. Am I the only one who remembers that dribble? Every conversation between Rose and Jack just seems so presumptuous and fake. It’s Jack’s few convincing moments where Rose doesn’t open her mouth for a while that keep me from groaning. I think the expression, “She’s pretty when she’s quiet,” fits young Rose perfectly.
Kate Winslet is not convincing at all, especially during her first encounter with Jack. “Don’t presume to tell me what I will and will not do.” Who is that wordy when they’re hanging off the back of a ship? Today I recognize Rose’s little stunt as just a typical teenage cry for attention and needless drama, but hey, we all did some pathetic things at seventeen. When I remember that Winslet is playing a teenager, I find the horrible lines and stupid decisions a little more forgivable, but not completely. I believe she was nominated for best actress to make Titanic just a little bigger and to congratulate her daring nudity.
Too many times, James Cameron has been a huge pain in my bladder, but I will say that Titanic is his masterpiece. Every detail is meticulous, timed perfectly and provokes the viewer in every way from a quaint smile, frightened excitement and sweeping sad emotion.
There is horrific beauty in the sinking. The groaning of the ship, the rushing water and countless people falling like raindrops into the ocean is exhilarating. The most terrifying thought in my head at the age of twelve was, “This is pretty much how it happened.” I love the way my heart drops when the lights go out on the ship, it breaks in half and smashes all the tiny people below. There are few movie moments in my time that have compared.
I am not one for romance and the cheap dialogue feels like it’ll give my ears a rash, but there’s something about Titanic that gets me every time. Maybe it’s Cameron’s peak at film making, the realism and spin on history. Maybe the whole film is such beautiful eye candy and the whole thing is done remarkably well. And the true test to tell I like the film, during the time-clinching sinking scenes I find myself yelling (usually at stupid Rose). They keep going down to where the water is and putting themselves in needless danger. Over and over again; do they like the freezing water? When I’m yelling at the characters and not the movie, there’s no fighting it, I love it.
I would like to ask the MPAA what exactly their guidelines for rating Titanic only PG-13 were? To my understanding, isn’t there only allowed one used of the F-word in a PG-13 film? I don’t want to be that little knit-picker, but I counted two. Maybe they’re more diluted over that three hour span, but I believe that technically Titanic should have been rated R. If this had been so, the history of blockbusters would be much different, and countless twelve-year-olds, like me, would not have paid for two different showings adding to the massive profits. Yet, I’m so glad I was able to see this at that age. Tsk, tsk MPAA. Don’t you enforce your own rules or do big budget blockbusters get some freebies now and then?
The one thing to take away from Titanic isn’t the mushy love story or the fantastic disaster, but the concept that real treasures aren’t physical relics, it is the memories that keep the past alive. I don’t know if I really grasped that twelve years ago, but at the same time I don’t think that grand idea was completely lost to my young mind. There’s always been a need for me to share stories, to keep those lost times alive. Even if only in one’s own mind, one of our most basic beautiful human needs is to remember the past. With Titanic’s one hundred year anniversary closing in, this concept seems more precious than ever.
“It’s been 84 years, and I can still smell the fresh paint. The china had never been used. The sheets had never been slept in. Titanic was called the Ship of Dreams, and it was. It really was.”