Directed by James Cameron
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Bill Paxton and Kathy Bates.
This movie was a true gamble that payed off. The film was a big phenomenon in 1997 through 1998, on the way to becoming the top grossing movie of all time, until Cameron’s Avatar took the spot. Titanic was everywhere, tv shows with behind the scenes footage, interviews with those involved, documentaries about the real ship, and even shows taking the facts of the real event and comparing them to the way it was showed in the film. And of course, “My heart will go on” by Celine Dion was on heavy rotation on the radio, even one version with dialogue from the film. In the 1998 Academy Awards ceremony it took home 11 Oscar’s including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Song and Best Dramatic score. Like Paxton’s character tells Rose, are you ready to go back to Titanic.
The plot is well known, we have Rose DeWitt Bukater, boarding the ship as the fiancée of Cal Hockley, who is the heir of a steel pipe fortune. Rose is part of an arranged marriage basically because her father died and left them with nothing and her mother believed marrying Hockley would secure their future and allow them to keep their lifestyle. On the other side, we get Jack Dawson, who wins two tickets to board the ship on a game of poker and with that gets to return to America. Rose feeling desperate and sad, tries to jump off the Titanic when Jack convinces her not to do it. From there they start to know each other and fall in love. From then on, we just see how their relationship grew and the decision for Rose to abandon her arranged life for the man she loved. The first half of the film is basically how Jack and Rose fall in love, in the second half of the film we get the sinking of the Titanic.
The movie worked so well because James Cameron wrote a great script and was able to take us through the event with both historic data and a fictional story, the fictional story made the audience care, even more, when the tragic event unfolds. I think presenting the tragedy in itself would have been impressive and the audience would have felt the sadness of all those lives lost, but by getting us to love the characters of Jack and Rose, the ending was more devastating for the audience. The scenes where the ship is sinking are so great, they are full of action, emotions and so much drama, it really worked perfectly. And by having an actual boat as a set made the experience better.
Another factor that worked for the film was the score by James Horner. The use for the first time, at least that I know, of vocals to go together with the orchestrations was brilliant. It added such an emotional effect when you saw the events unfolding. Horner with Will Jennings wrote the song “My heart will go on” and had Celine do a demo of the song to convince Cameron to use it.
We have to talk about Leo and Kate. Both were known for being great actors before Titanic. But this movie brought them to larger fame, I can’t say it made their career because before Titanic they both were nominated for Academy Awards. But I really admire both of them because they went for challenging roles way beyond the characters they portrayed on Titanic, DiCaprio went on to make films with Scorsese and Winslet also kept on doing amazing roles, and both of them later became Oscar winners. Their work in Titanic was fantastic and they really achieved a chemistry between them that made the audience love those characters. Billy Zane as Cal Hockley was also so well performed, he actually got me to hate him and at the same time feel sorry for him. Kathy Bates also gives a great performance.
This film was groundbreaking and at that time I had never seen a movie that people just kept going to see it over and over again. I was one of them, I saw the movie 15 times in the film’s original run at the theaters, and then again when it was released on 3d. It is still one of my favorite films.