Nominated for 14 Academy Awards and winner of 11 including Best Picture, Titanic became a worldwide phenomenon upon its release in 1997. Written and directed by James Cameron, the producer behind such hits as Terminator 2 and True Lies, the film chronicles the tragic 1912 sinking of the Titanic on its maiden voyage while interweaving a classic love story. At 194 minutes, it’s probably the longest commercial blockbuster in recent memory. Apparently, the sinking of the ship mirrors the real life timeline of the original sinking of the Titanic and that’s the reason for the three-hour plus running time (or at least, that’s what I’ve heard). Nevertheless, unless you’re absolutely disgusted by overly idealistic love stories, it’s a film well worth watching.
Titanic centers around the life of Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet), a young woman onboard the celebrated launch of Titanic, the world’s largest luxury ship and a vessel believed to be indestructible. Accompanied by her social-climbing mother Ruth (Frances Fisher) and her arrogantly wealthy fiancé Caledon Hockley (Billy Zane), Rose is bound for the beauty and sophistication of Continental Europe. But her trip, and her life, take an unexpected turn when she encounters Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), a vagabond artist with no money, zero social status, and a zest for life. Against the wishes of Ruth, Rose and Jack fall in love, incurring the wrathful vengeance of Caledon. But, in the end, only a disaster of epic proportions can break the couple apart.
With a number of standout performances by a star-studding cast, including previous Academy Award winner Kathy Bates in the role of “new money” heiress Molly Brown, Titanic is a truly memorable film. The scope and opulence of the fabled ship is simply breathtaking, and the costumes and props form a brilliant kaleidoscope of images from the past. Although an overblown and idealistic teenage love story was the true focus of the film, Titanic created enough action and suspense during the sinking to keep viewers who aren’t interested in such plots interested. Inevitably, most viewers will envision themselves in the midst of such circumstances, wondering how they would react. Parts of the film are narrated from the perspective of a present day speaker, and the flashback sequences are combined to good effect. Overall, it makes for an outstanding film.
James Horner composed the musical score for Titanic, and his efforts are one reason the film experienced such widespread success. With a number of brilliant and original scores already to his credit – Field Of Dreams (1989), Legends Of The Fall (1994), and Braveheart (1995) all come to mind – Horner expands upon his unique voice by creating a soundtrack that combines the lazy breeze of an Iowa cornfield with the majestic plains of Scotland. In addition, Celine Dion provides the breakout performance of her career with the hit single “My Heart Will Go On,” which in the movie is paired with the most famous scene from the film in which Jack and Rose stand on the bow of the Titanic and pretend to fly. Not surprisingly, I’ve learned that in the years since, many tourists have lost their lives trying to mimic them. So I don’t recommend you try that! But I do advise watching Titanic. If you can sit through the sappy, melodramatic love scenes and the accompanying dialogue, you’ll be blown away by the special effects, the costumes, the set, and the soundtrack.