“Nothing On Earth Could Come Between Them.”
Unless you have been living on the moon for the past 8 years, you will have undoubtedly seen or at the very least, heard about James Cameron's epic, multi-Oscar winning movie Titanic. As such, I am sure you will also know the story of this movie so I will not go into too much detail about the plot other than to say that the ship sinks! Ok, maybe I am being a little presumptuous assuming that everyone knows the plot of Titanic but with the popularity the movie enjoyed and the more than $1 billion it made in global box office receipts, I imagine most do. If you are one of the few who do not, here is a brief summary.
Besides the obvious story of the 'unsinkable' ship Titanic, hitting an iceberg and sinking, we have running alongside this plot one about modern day treasure hunter Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton), who believes he is close to finding the Heart of the Ocean. A priceless Diamond believed to have sunk with the Titanic. When Rose Calvert (Gloria Stuart) turns up saying she was the last person to have seen the diamond, we are transported back to 1912 to hear her story and try to discover the secrets of the Titanic. April 1912, a wild, carefree and somewhat poor young man, Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) wins a ticket to sail on Titanic through a Poker game and onboard meets a well-to-do young lady, Rose (Kate Winslet) who is set to marry a wealthy man she doesn't love as well as living a life she hates. This leads her to attempt to end her life by jumping off the ship but she is rescued by Jack and a romance ensues. Of course her repugnant fiancé Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) isn't prepared to let this happen without a fight and so develops the love triangle which is at the core of the movie. So that's the fictitious story which runs alongside the very real one of the fateful ship.
Now this is a movie that seems to divide opinion straight down the middle, you either loved it or hated it and if you just search through our other Titanic reviews on this site, you will find others who have a very different view than I. What this tells you is that this movie as with any other art form is down to an individual's taste and in my opinion Titanic was immensely enjoyable both in the way it used traditional Hollywood epic style storytelling and in the technically brilliant way it brings the Titanic to very real life. In fact, I would imagine that unless you were actually a passenger, you will never get a better idea of what it was like to have been there .
Yes, I know the movie is basically a romantic period piece primarily and in this respect it offers few surprises. But before we all relied on computer animation, green screens, special effects and surround sound to give us what we wanted from a film, we had good old storytelling and the Hollywood epic. Movies such as Gone with the Wind offered melodramatic performances, overacted scenes, flawed storylines and predictable outcomes but boy did we love them! Such films are now regarded as classics and for good reason. Gone with the Wind followed a well trodden path but on a massive, never before seen scale.
Titanic follows this same formula but also adds all the modern day ingredients such as state of the art special effects that we, the viewers, now demand and why not? Making a movie set a hundred years ago, it seems only logical to follow in the footsteps of those classic movies of yesteryear and as the saying goes, 'if it isn't broke, don't fix it!' Titanic captures this time perfectly and has the feel of those epic movies of days gone by but with one major advantage, James Cameron.
James Cameron is a master story teller. He can stir your emotions like few other directors can, whether it be sadness, fear, laughter awe or excitement, if anyone can, Cameron can! But with Titanic he had an almost impossible task. How could he persuade people to go to see a movie which they already knew the outcome of? He knew he had to conjure up another story within the main premise which would evoke the feelings needed to truly appreciate the enormity of the outcome. A purely action driven subplot such as those found in The Poseidon Adventure wouldn't have worked, a thriller would not have necessarily left you sympathising with the character's predicament and of course comedy was a no-no. This really only left romance as a premise as it would hopefully conjure the appropriate emotional state within the viewer to be affected deeply by the climatic ending and not just be in shock at the ship sinking, but care about the people aboard it. Some say the story was all a little too predictable but I say all movies are based on a certain predictability and characters being in the right place at the right time otherwise the story would last only ten minutes! Imagine if Rose had actually jumped at the start. Movie over, goodnight and switch the lights off on your way out! Great for the haters of predictability, terrible for the lovers of movies!
The attention to detail and the level of authenticity in Titanic is truly superb. Yes, a few of the special effects do look a little 'artificial' by today's standards, but most are, even today, revolutionary and overall you genuinely believe that you are aboard the HMS Titanic both inside and out and Cameron has always been able to use special effects to elicit an emotion from you. His movies, including Terminator 1& 2, The Abyss, True Lies, Aliens and of course Titanic have all been well told stories and whatever emotion the movie demanded, he was able to use special effects to bring that emotion out. Now Titanic the movie had two purposes; the first was to make you believe you were actually witnessing the sinking of the world's most famous ship and the second was to make you actually care about it. I believe it achieved both these aims and will too go down in history (pun intended) as one of Hollywood's most epic movies. Titanic does have overblown performances, overblown scenarios and overblown sets but with a story as big as Titanic, that's exactly what was required and I for one thought it was a classic.