Welcome to another addition of Out of The Past, where I review older movies, from acclaimed award winners, cult classics, and some of my personal favorites. This week’s review is for:
Directed By: James Cameron
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Bernard Hill, Bill Paxton, Jonathan Hyde, and Gloria Stuart
Titanic starts off in present day (around 1996-7) with a man named Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) who is exploring one of the most famous shipwrecks of all time, the Titanic. However, it’s not for any scientific discovery or “all that bullshit”; he’s looking for The Heart Of The Ocean, a legendary diamond that was filled after the sinking. Once down there, he finds a safe where he believes the diamond is withheld. After opening, all that is there is slug and artifacts that don’t seem so incredible…or so it seems.
After cleaning off one of the artifacts, a journal, they find a picture of a nude woman wearing the diamond necklace. After showing the drawing on TV, a woman calls Lovett and states that she is Rose Calvert (Gloria Stuart), and she is the woman in the picture. This sparks many voices, some stating that she is lying, but Lovett believes this will get him to diamond. Once she comes aboard, she doesn’t tell him where it is, but the experience of being on the Titanic, going on it, sailing, and of course the tragic night the ship sank.
As she tells her story, we are drawn back to the year 1912. Rose, now young in the story (played by Kate Winslet) tells a Romeo and Juliet-type story about how she falls in love with a third class member (Leonardo DiCaprio), which doesn’t suit with her mother or her fiancee.
I remember when I was about four or five years old, I was over at my grandmother’s house, and she wanted to watch a movie called “Titanic.” Of course I was five and had no knowledge about the film let alone the true story behind it, so naturally I sat and watched it. And what I didn’t know was not only would I see things I didn’t truly understand at the time (including a pair of boobies), I fell in love with it immediately.
This was the moment for me where I became a fan of film. Before then the only “real” film I had ever seen was Toy Story; other than that it was Barney and Thomas The Tank Engine. But after Titanic, that was no more, I moved on from that and became more sucked in by movies like that. And now years later, when I’m grown up and going to High School, I still pop this movie into my DVD player and watch it.
Now Titanic has gotten a lot of backlash over that past couple of years, complains coming in about its length, its script, and its story. And I hear all these things that people have said about this, especially Kenneth Turan’s review which Cameron called him out on, and I just don’t get it. What is there not to love about this film? It has everything that a film should have, romance, excitement, action, drama, character development, story arc, suspense. It pulls you in and has you live it and breathe it. You are on the Titanic at that moment, you’re feeling the atmosphere, you feel the impact of the iceberg, you feel the fright of the sinking.
Now enough of defending and saying how brilliant the film is, let’s explain why: first off, the performances are outstanding in the film. Every actor is in their right place, they are onscreen for the right time and they serve their purpose. The best actor in the film is definitely Leonardo DiCaprio. He is Jack Dawson and always will be. I know he’s been in so many other films and he’s great in everyone, The Departed, Blood Diamond, and most recently Shutter Island. But there’s only one character that I know him as when I see him in a film is Jack Dawson. And I’m surprised this guy hasn’t gotten an Oscar yet, give this guy an Oscar, he deserves one!
Some of the other stand out performances are Bernard Hill as Captain Smith, Victor Garber as Thomas Andrews, and Gloria Stuart as Older Rose. Kate Winslet as Rose herself is great as well, and I mentioned above that I saw this very young, so it was the first time I saw breasts in a movie. And I’ll tell ya for a first time they weren’t so bad, and she still remains my ultimate movie crush. I mentioned Bernard Hill, and he’s easily the second best performance in the film. You see him bear the weight of the world on his shoulders once the sinking comes.
And everything techinal about the film, it’s visual effects, sound, and it’s score are perfect. The score brings you into the moment (especially in the “I’m the king of the world” scene), the visuals are groundbreaking (for it’s time), and its cinematography is gorgeous. The visual effects used the motion capture technology that, twelve years later, Cameron perfected with his follow up Avatar.
And what I love most about this film is its message: Life is not about money or riches, it’s about your own personal treasures, such as family and love. And that’s a true thing in real life though many don’t seem to see it that way. And I’ll never forget the ending. It’s such a sad, emotional ending that still gets me everytime I watch it.
So overall, Titanic is an absolute masterpiece that doesn’t deserve the backlash it’s been getting but instead its hugest praise. It’s an incredible movie going experience filled with jaw dropping visuals, an incredible message, and an amazing experience that I will be revisiting until I fall into the coffin and hit the grave.
Famous quote: “I’m the king of the world!”