This film is one that will get the audience emotionally captivated. Between the historical facts and evidence in this movie, to the tragic romance between Jack and Rose, director James Cameron does a beautiful job at getting us connected on both ends of the spectrum. He takes the audience on a story through a three-hour film almost as if we're all on the boat as it sinks. I got nervous, I started to hyperventilate, I was insanely connected, which is the response of most viewers who watch this film for the first time.
One of the most iconic, and one of my personal favorite movies hit the twenty year mark this year— Titanic! It is crazy to think that Titanic was released twenty years ago. I am not too much of a movie guru, but this film goes down as one of my top, as well as the world’s top favorite movie for several reasons including the fact that the film is based off of an actual historical event. It has an amazing message behind it, and reassures the fact that chivalry is definitely not dead. I believe that millennials especially connect with this movie so much because we long for that chivalry that Jack demonstrates to Rose. It is something we fantasize about, but don’t actually experience in our reality and the heart-pounding action sure helps to captivate us as well.
As with any great film, there are movie making gold moments that people will always remember (of course Jack and Rose at the front of the ship). The romantic aspect is catchy, specifically the scene of Jack artistically drawing Rose. These are only a few reasons why every generation will continue to love this film as time goes by. For me, personally, I love that Rose is a kickass feminist role model. Despite her previous poor choices, she is a woman to look up to. She is smart enough to know what she wants and bold enough to get it. This must have been impressive during the time this film came out, considering the fact that women weren’t always regarded as strong or independent, which of course also reflects the era in which the film is set.
Titanic the movie also allows us to form a connection with an event that is deeply rooted in our history. For many people, including myself, this film is what introduced them to the historical event. Although created by modern artists, the film allows people to emotionally connect with a tragedy that happened over 100 years ago! The interesting thing about this film is how seamless Cameron combined a romantic fiction with a real-life tragedy. Cameron is known to have the reputation of a hard-ass action director, which is belied by Titanic and a closer look at the more tender relationships in films such as Aliens and The Abyss. The story involves a 17-year old woman named Rose Bukater sailing to what she personifies as her own personal doom, because she is being forced by her mother to marry a rich snob. She hates the prospect so much to the point that she considers suicide. However, she is saved by Jack Dawson (the lovely and handsome Leonardo DiCaprio) and of course, through the course of the film, they end up falling in love during the brief time they have together.
In reality, on April 15th, 1912, the “unsinkable” Titanic hit an iceberg and went down off the coast of Newfoundland. It left 1,500 if its 2,220 passengers and crew dead. To portray these events accurately would take a lot of top notch special effects. The visual effects of this movie are outstanding, considering it was shot 20 years ago. From the beginning, we are confronted with images of the largest floating object ever built to that time. This visual sights left the audiences’ jaws dropped. A particularly cool thing about this film that I didn’t know was the fact that Cameron built a replica of the Titanic 90 percent to scale in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. He also reproduced the original interiors, down to the silverware, wallpaper, and carpeting. The smart thing that Cameron did in his storytelling was skip out on all of the details on the ship’s crew and shortage of lifeboats, and shifted the focus more towards the personal relationships in order to keep the audience emotionally invested.
I love how this film begins and ends with present day scenes of a treasure hunter, Brock Lovett. Bill Paxton's character uses submersible vehicles to dive two and a half miles beneath the Atlantic to shoot the ruins of the Titanic. The effect of the haunting shots of the stateroom, fireplaces, chandeliers, which then dissolve from their ghostly visage to a vivid recreation is absolutely creative and breathtaking. Lovett wants to find the blue diamond that Rose wore the night Jack drew her. For Cameron, this film is a successful attempt to merge and raise pop entertainment to a level of art.
The film has its strongest moments when the images are most harsh: the ship cracking in two pieces; the stern standing straight up with passengers clinging to the sides before diving and falling into the sea; Molly Brown failing to persuade others in her life boat to risk their lives to save others; and the most compelling scene ever, the final moonless night with the sea full of passengers life-jacketed, faces blue, and throats raspy and raw from screaming endlessly. Then after, the screaming subsides for a moment before hypothermia sets in, reducing them to blue, floating corps.
This is when the audience is drawn in with anticipation of knowing if the lovers have survived or not. *SPOILER* When the lifeboats finally come back (after what seems like forever), most people are frozen to death. I am not a super emotional person, but this part of the movie got to me. It’s amazing to see how fictional romance stories can make someone cry, as if they really happened. At this point, what Rose was experiencing felt real to me. It was an illusion that resonates with all who watch the movie.
The movie ends with the telling of the entire story to a group of people. It is obvious that the story seems to have made an impact on those who were listening, as does the film, which makes an impact on the audience. The appeal of this story is made up of a number of things, but the heart of the entire appeal, which most believe, is the power of sacrifice. We, as the audience, can identify with moments of sacrifice. Represented through Jack, we can identify with moments we would like to be brave and sacrifice ourselves for the ones we love. The power of Titanic is not strictly because of the love story, but because it touches the deepest human feelings about three things: living, dying, and being cherished. This is the essence and basis of life.
Cameron has made a historical film that speaks to the dangers of blind faith in technology. In the gold money making scene (Jack and Rose stretching their arms out to the sea. Oblivious of the tons of steel beneath them), this moment depicts two young and youthful people that are full of optimism and unaware of the greed and arrogance that eventually brings the ship down at the end of the day.
This is a similar parallel to life. We grow up with an idea of how we want life to go, or how we plan life to go, unaware of the work that it takes to get the life we want. It isn’t always glorious, and as young and youthful humans, we may be unaware of what life has in store for us. But it is a story waiting to unfold. At the end of the day, this movie is deeply connected with me, in the sense that women can be strong and independent. We can survive with or without a man. But it takes us being brave and bold enough to go after what we want.