The ‘unsinkable’ ship The Titanic hits an iceberg. All of the crew members and passengers then fight for their lives. But will Jack and Rose survive and be together?
As I queued to watch the 3D re-release of Titanic – having paid more for food than for my ticket – there were around 20 if not more teenage girls singing Celine Dion, and a few more shouting out the famous line “I’m the King of the World”. Their boyfriends had been dragged along, and their faces were glum and seemed to telepathically scream into my face “why the bloody hell did I agree to come to this?”
They probably just wanted to see Cabin in the Woods.
Titanic has been labelled as a romantic film which produces tears in all of the audience’s eyes by the end. A great shame. The boyfriends imagined they were going to see such a thing, but by the end, I overheard one of them say “Actually that was quite good, it was more than just a love-film…” This stranger who I never spoke to had an excellent point. Titanic is a merge of genres and this is a reason why it’s very good.
It’s a comedy. A social-satire on the upper-classes. A thriller. A disaster movie. A historical-epic. And of course, a tragedy.
The first half is a lot of fun. It’s joyous, hilarious and heart-warming. We see Rose (Kate Winslet) progressively fall in love with Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio). For her, it’s almost like taking revenge, like revolting against the stiff-upper-lipped “let’s-make-a-jolly-good-impression” part of society that she belongs to. Her fiance, Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) is a snob to say the least. He constantly mocks Jack, and when Jack saves her from jumping off the boat (due to her having enough of the society that she’s part of), Jack is invited to dinner, to which Cal says under his breath in a jovial public-schoolboy-esque way “This should be interesting.” The majority of Titanic is actually more fun than tragic. There’s a humorous irish-dancing sequence, and endless scenes where we laugh at the absolute snobbery of the rich. Oh, and Jack and Rose have such passionate sex in a car that the windows steam up. Quite literally a ‘hot’ session.
Indeed, Titanic is a film which makes us like lower-class life more than upper-class life, we laugh at the rich people and root for the poor. subtly satirical of class values.
Of course, all of this fun, comedy and romance is simply what Alfred Hitchcock would call “playing the audience like a piano”. We know what happens. The boat will hit an iceberg. Water will flood the boat: pouring, gushing and sliding up from the lower decks and into the upper decks. There will be too much weight, and the ship will then crack in half like a child splitting a mars bar in two.
The last 90 minutes of the movie is an epic, spectacular thrill-ride. Water gushes at an incredibly fast rate down tight corridors, with crew-members running away from it. I was reminded of the boulder-chase sequence in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc. There are sequences where we pan out and see the entire ship and see the amount of chaos that is occuring: all the people look like ants, and we see some running for their lives, some tightly packed together attempting to escape their fate, and some plunging to their deaths as they accidentally fall off.
There are some scenes in this last section of the film which may unsettle audience members despite the film’s 12 certificate. “Women and children only!” is constantly screamed out. Men have to stay on the boats whilst they watch women and children escape via the life-boats to their safety. Husbands and wives are split up, mothers and sons are split up, and we pan dramatically past sobbing, crying faces and people experiencing feelings of utter desperation.
And if a man attempts to get on one of the life-boats, he is barged back with force via the aid of a boat oar, or a bullet plunging into his heart.
Unfortunately, James Cameron goes overboard. These thrilling, powerful, moving, shocking scenes examining human nature and the battle for survival quickly descend into less intense moments, due to the films sheer length. Perhaps the film is called ‘Titanic’ not because of how big the boat is but because how long the film is. It’s around 3 hours and 15 minutes. The film drags on endlessly. Scenes of panicking and screaming are closely followed by more scenes of panicking and screaming…which are then followed on by more scenes of…panicking and screaming.
If anything, Titanic should by 2 and half hours and nowhere near 3.
Then we come to the 3D which this (originally 2D) film was retrofitted for. I am no big fan of 3D, I usually pick the 2D option because: a) It’s cheaper b) 3D isn’t famous for the quality of its brightness. However, it has been well-fitted into 3D, and the film feels somehow enhanced. Nothing really flies into our faces like with most 3D films, it’s more a case of detail and texture which is enhanced by the 3D. We feel closer to the ship, but not immersed in the world of Titanic. It’s been said that 3D reduces brightness levels by 20%. So why has James Cameron released it in 3D? Why does any director release a film in 3D? Cash. Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time, and it is directed by James Cameron, spot a pattern?
Overall, Titanic 3D keeps afloat throughout the first section and then sinks slowly due to its length and it’s 3D, it has only been released in 3D and not 2D, just so that James can make more cash. Con?
Thrilling, funny, powerful, visually stimulating, Titanic is a film of unforgettable force which unfortunately sinks towards its ever-so-slightly long and boring end.