Blast From The Past: Titanic
Well, to finish our blast back to 1997 there is one film that cannot be ignored: Titanic. This James Cameron film managed to receive fourteen Academy Award nominations and eleven wins, including Best Picture and Best Director. It was also the highest grossing film of the year, and it was the first film to earn over $1 billion at the box office. This secured it as the highest-grossing film of all time until it was unseated by another James Cameron film, Avatar, in 2010. The film starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, and Bill Paxton, and it follows a forbidden romantic relationship on board of the doomed ocean liner.
The film begins with Bill Paxton’s Brock Lovett and his team of treasure hunters searching through the wreckage of the Titanic. They are searching for the Heart of the Ocean, a fictitious gem with a history similar to the Hope Diamond and supposedly lost with the ship. The team find a drawing inside a recovered safe of a young woman wearing only the diamond. When Rose, the woman in the drawing, contacts them, they bring her out to the research vessel to learn more. While on board, she recounts to them her journey on board the Titanic. In doing so, she reveals not only the traumatic sinking of the ship but also her knowledge of the gem and her love affair with a young man from third-class.
I remember watching this film in the theater and being in awe, but when I watched it again this week, it was almost difficult to watch. Some of the dialogue comes across as incredibly cheesy, and when Rose first tells Jack that she’ll never let go, I couldn’t help but shudder. There are a few other cringe worthy lines about flying and being the king of the world. Also, two decades of hearing “My Heart Will Go On” and seeing countless memes that show how Jack could have fit on that piece of debris makes it a little difficult to take some of the scenes seriously.
Now, even after saying all of that, there are some really good moments in this film. In hindsight, I think that it’s genius that they had real footage of the sunken Titanic in the film, and I’m glad that the movie was set in present-day with flashbacks to those events in 1912. We all know the story about the sinking of the Titanic, so I’m glad they made Lovett’s goal to find something lost within the ship instead of only telling us the story of the Titanic’s demise. I also appreciate how historically accurate certain characters and events were in the midst of a fictitious story. Kathy Bates as the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" will always be a highlight for me.
While watching it again, though, it occurred to me that Titanic was an epic, romantic disaster film that was unlike any other. It’s not surprising that it was the first film to gross over a billion dollars, and it’s also not surprising that this was the most expensive film to make in its time. It shows because the visuals still hold up for the most part, which is impressive for a film that is twenty years old. The dialogue and story might fumble in some places, but it’s still one of the most iconic films of the 1990’s. I cannot say that you should watch it over and over again on a frequent basis, but Titanic is still a movie to be appreciated.