Titanic (1997)

“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…”

‘Titanic’, directed in 1997 by James Cameron, is an American historical romance. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are two passengers, Rose and Jack, traveling to America on the doomed ship. Social divisions cause friction between the decks, but when Rose, driven by ennui, threatens to commit suicide, Jack saves her. Amongst the state rooms, the lower levels of the ship and the engine room, the pair begin a relationship that is curtailed when the ship hits an iceberg. Rooted within the narrative is this romance, but it is really Cameron’s almost paraphilic obsession with the details of the Titanic that stand out. Although the film focuses on Rose and Jack, framed by an elderly Rose returning to the site of the sinking, these scenes are constantly paralleled with the cuts between the decaying ship at the bottom of the ocean, and the Titanic in all her glory. Having set this parallel, Cameron runs with it, until the final scene in which he cuts from young to older Rose, then from old to young Titanic. This is not to criticize the movie – Cameron perfectly balances the two sides of the story: in generic terms, romance and disaster film, each informing and enriching the other. When the ship does begin to sink, we find that each character, even the minor ones, have been carefully crafted, so that unlike other disaster movies in which many of the victims feel like collateral damage, when we see the bodies frozen in the water, we feel like we know them.

Would I recommend it? Yes – but apparently everyone had already seen it apart from me, so my recommendation seems a little pointless. It’s far too long to watch in a double bill with anything.


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