1997 Movie Review: TITANIC, 1997

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TITANIC, 1997
Movie Review

Directed by James Cameron
Starring: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates
Review by Andrew Rowe

SYNOPSIS:

Fictional romantic tale of a rich girl and poor boy who meet on the ill-fated voyage of the ‘unsinkable’ ship.

REVIEW:

He spends twenty minutes setting up the story before we are even introduced to the main characters. Atop of that he spends another hour and twenty minutes before introducing us to that big white block of ice that changed Hollywood forever. This is James Cameron’s film. He wrote it, co-edited it, and directed it. He made the film exactly the way he wanted to, and I would not have it any other way.

Cameron uses every single one of the film’s 194 minutes to tell his story. Every shot is there for a reason, and as long as its running time is, there is no point that boredom creeps in. Cameron uses a great storytelling device, which consists of the film opening and closing in a modern setting. Brock Lovett is a treasure hunter looking for the “Heart of the Ocean” in the wreck of the RMS Titanic. Rose DeWitt Bukater, a survivor of the Titanic sees Lovett on television. She contacts him and is sent with her daughter to his boat. There is a drawing of Rose that was found in a safe on the wreck, it’s a nude portrait of Rose wearing the “Heart of the Ocean”. Rose then begins telling her story of her time on the Titanic.

We’re then transported to 1912; Cameron puts his massive budget to good use with beautiful crane shots that mix dazzling special effects with brilliant art design. One shot in particular is when young Rose, played by Kate Winslet exits her car. The camera cranes down over her large brimmed purple hat to reveal the beautiful actress. It’s just one of the many moments Cameron uses filmmaking magic to bring his story to vivid visual life. He makes it well known that this is a film of epic proportions, and we are in for a treat.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson is introduced as a penniless artist who travels the globe with the clothes on his back. As compared to Rose who is a first-class socialite, Jack won his ticket on the Titanic through a poker game. The two find themselves meeting at the stern of the boat, where Rose is about to commit suicide. Jack talks her down, and their romance begins.

Jack tries to show Rose how to hawk a “loogie” like boys do, and although this scene may seem unnecessary; it’s just a pit stop on the road to their destination of love. Over the course of an hour and twenty minutes we’ve seen Jack and Rose fall in love, and it feels real. Cameron took his time, but because of his patience and gentle pacing, we’ve fallen just as in love with them as they are with eacthother. Teenagers and adult filmgoers alike cannot deny the chemistry between these two; their love is one for the ages.

When the boat does strike the iceberg it’s not an immediate threat, it’s a casual impending doom. Water slowly fills the lower class section of the boat. The women and children in first class begin loading onto lifeboats, knowing they’re leaving behind people that will never see land again. The sense of panic and intensity builds and builds. Cameron has a great ensemble cast he’s been developing the whole film and has a purposeful fate for each of them. When the boat breaks in half and begins sinking it is the greatest car crash you can’t look away from that has ever been caught on film. With little music, Cameron lets the screams of the passengers falling to their death haunt you. Bodies bounce off propellers and other pieces of the boat, women and children wait in their beds as water surrounds them, thousands of lives are ending before our eyes. The images are horrific, and you’ve never been so happy cuddled up on your warm couch.

You could nit pick at some of the script and its dialogue, just as you can the lyrics in best pop songs of our time. That is essentially what Titanic is, an amazingly crafted film that appeals to everyone, because it has something for everyone. It’s bubblegum pop in film form, a romantic tragedy, a disaster film, and the fact that the event is a part of history allows it to resonate even more. It’s such an experience that even after its initial impact, still delivers what it did a decade ago, popcorn chomping bliss on the greatest scale.

 

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