Tuesday, March 22, 2011

1997: Titanic

Jack Dawson is a poor artist who wins a boat ticket to America in a poker game.  Wealthy Rose DeWitt Bukater feels trapped with her unloveable fiance and snobbish mother.  Jack stops Rose from committing suicide, and they fall for each other.  But their love is doomed from the start, by a combination of Rose's determined fiance and a pesky iceburg.  This is all told through the eyes of Rose as a 100-year-old woman to a crew searching for the legendary diamond that disappeared with the Titanic.

It may seem kind of pointless to sit through this three-and-a-quarter-hour movie because obviously, everybody knows how it's going to end.  If there's anyone in the world who doesn't know this already, let me spoil it for you: the ship sinks.  This movie broke so many box office and award records that it's easy to dismiss it as over-rated.  Maybe it is, a little bit.  But somehow, for those three hours and fourteen minutes, the filmmakers manage to transport viewers to the night of April 14, 1912.  As the film shows, it's one thing to talk about the mechanics of the ship sinking; it's quite another to actually experience it.  The movie uses its brilliant script to set up well-developed, realistic characters for us to get attached to, and then lets the disaster strike.  With mind-blowing visual and audio effects, we feel as though we are actually struggling to avoid the ice cold water right along with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.  That, I think, more than anything else, is why this film has gotten so much hype: it truly brings history to life.  Many other movies, especially Best Picture Winners, have attempted to achieve this, but very few pull it off as well as Titanic does.

The best part about watching the movie this time for me, though, was having a group of friends there to watch it with me.  This provided both a distraction from how depressing the story was and new insights into plot points.  And of course, singing along with Celine Dion during the credits is only truly epic if you have other people there to join in.

Despite the fact that it's difficult to sit through this whole movie, the soundtrack, script, characters, and special effects make it well worth your time.  And although some of its records have since been broken, I am confident that this movie's appeal to a wide audience will make its reputation go on and on.

Next: Shakespeare in Love

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