Sunday, 15 April 2012


Titanic, 1997
Directed by James Cameron
Nominated for 14 Oscars, Won 11
Up Against: As Good As It Gets, Full Monty, Good Will Hunting, LA Confidental

We all know the story of Titanic, especially now, with the world reminding us of it's 100th anniversary since it's sinking. For those of you who've been hiding under a rock, Titanic was, at the time, the largest ship in the world, and was struck by an iceberg on it's maiden voyage, killing 68.2% of all people on board, around 1523 people. The movie follows 2 young people. Jack Dawson, a young man who wins his ticket onto the Titanic in a poker game. He's poor, but has big dreams and takes nothing in life for granted. When he sets eyes on Rose, he makes a connection that will change his life. Rose is an upper class lady, engaged to marry a very rich man. But Rose is unhappy with her life. She detests everyone around her, and wants to live life, and see the world, not to submit to a husband whom she doesn't love, or do what people tell her to. She meets Jack while trying to work up the courage to jump off the end of the Titanic, to kill herself. He convinces her to stay, and saves her life when she slips and almost falls into the water after trying to climb back onto the boat. After this, the two find themselves falling in love.

While watching this movie, I realized I had come to see it on an interesting day. April 14th. The Titanic went down very early (2:20am) on April 15th. It was uncanny timing, as I hadn't planned it, but it was eerie nonetheless. The Titanic is a topic I find extraordinarily interesting and a story I've always felt myself drawn to. While it definitely wasn't the largest boat accident/sinking, it sunk under such unusual circumstances, and on it's maiden voyage, leaving so many dead and frozen in the waters. I hadn't seen this film in a really long time. I've seen bits and pieces over the years when it plays on TV, but haven't watched the whole thing for probably 4 or 5 years. So it was almost like watching a whole new film, as I remembered so little.

If I'm correct, this film is what really brought Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio into the international limelight. Kate, playing Rose, received her first Academy Award nomination. Kate was delightful as Rose. She captured her spirit, her ambition, and her fire and really made her believable. Leonardo DiCaprio played Jack, who had initially turned the role down. Leo was also great in his role, playing the smart but poor young man who finds himself falling for Rose. Surprisingly, he received no nomination.

This film is incredibly stunning. The shots of the ship are gorgeous. James Cameron did a phenomenal job with everything set related. He studied everything he could on the Titanic for several years, and even organizaed several dives to the wreckage site over 2 years, and having filmed and looked farther into the Titanic than anyone else had been since it's original passengers. All the footage seen in the film was Cameron's own footage of his dives. Cameron constructed a replica of the Titanic which was almost to full scale, thought the lifeboats and funnels were 90% to scale and only the starboard side of the ships exterior was completed. The sets were reconstructed either by or under the supervision of researchers of the White Star Line, the company that created the original ship. Cameron studied the Titanic for 5 years before going into production. As a result, his film is made incredibly accurately. The interior set designs were based off the original blueprints of the ship, and modeled after her sister ship, Olympic.

The filming of the sinking scenes were 90% filmed on set. The replica boat was able to be put on an angle to make it appear as though it's sinking, and the destruction of the infamous staircase was truly destroyed by the water. The scene of the ship splitting was also the actual replica. It was split into several sections, and was actually sunk, and filmed. Cameron was really striving for accuracy when filming, and wanted to show it's sinking as it probably actually happened, and did this, for the most part, without computer generated effects.

James Horner, no stranger to the film world at that point, composed the music, as well as the song "My Heart Will Go On". The music in this movie is gorgeous, with a flicker of Irish, and really captures the love between Rose and Jack. And everything technical, whether it be costumes, art/set direction, cinematography, everything was so well done. It's even said that every single female extra wore corsets, even if they were in the background and hardly seen.

What I love about this film is how it portrays the sinking. It doesn't talk facts, or stats, or anything like that. It focuses on two people, who were there and experienced it, and makes you realize as interesting as something like the Titanic sinking was, it was a real story, and so many people were lost. And that's the point Cameron really wanted to get across. While the story of Jack and Rose is a little cliche, it made the story of the Titanic personal, and real. And that came across so well.

Titanic really is an epic film. We get the real story, and see what it was like from several different points of view. We see how the third class were locked in for so long, many of them drowning in the ship. We see the first class people in the boats, not willing to turn back and save those who were in the water, stranded. We see that only one life boat went back to find survivors, only to find it was too late. We see people jumping off the boat, people hanging on for dear life. We see the people who willingly stayed behind; an elderly couple who laid in bed as the water drifts in, and a mother with her two children telling them a story. We see things from all different kinds of perspectives, making this story all the more heartbreaking. We're frustrated with the workers on the ship when we hear they're sending out lifeboats not even half full, even though there's not enough boats for even half the people on board. We see the captain go down with the ship, and people killing themselves. All of this perfectly executed by Cameron, and most of it filmed, as I mentioned before, on set, rather than visual effects.

This movie has come down as a classic. It's won 11 Oscars, tied for the most won. It was nominated for 14, tied for most nominated. It's the 2nd highest grossing film in the world (was the first until 2010). It's regarded as one of the best romance movies, and it spent the most weeks at the top of the box office, consecutively. It gave Leonardo DiCaprio international "hottie" status, and sprung both Kate Winslet's and Leonardo DiCaprio's career to a higher level. The film was made after dedicated research and even several Titanic historians were hired to validate much of what Cameron was doing.

Honestly, I really loved this movie. The acting is great, the story is tragic, and just everything is so accurate, you can tell James Cameron has such a passion for this story and for this event. He made it personal, instead of just facts and being an "interesting event". While many criticize it for being a love story, being long, etc, this is something I really liked. I like that sometimes romances win Best Picture. They're a part of the movie culture, and it's a part of most everyone's lives. The film was exceedingly well done, and had so much heart and soul put into it. Plus I'm a girl, and I'm allowed to love romance movies right?

Acting- 18/20
Directing- 20/20
Writing- 18/20
Personal Enjoyment- 19.5/20
Overall Package -18.5/20

Total: 94/100

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