“Titanic” directed by James Cameron remains one of the most successful films ever released having gained remarkable profits of more than two billion dollars. Set in 1912, it follows two people aboard the legendary unsinkable ship throughout its first and last voyage. Two young people meet by chance, fall in love, fight the constraints of aristocracy and fight against the catastrophe together. In this regard, the tragedy of Titanic serves as the majestic backdrop to an otherwise usual love story, which, nonetheless, does not leave any viewers indifferent. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet delivered stellar performances managing to remain genuine and likeable at the same time. “Titanic” can already be regarded as one of Hollywood’s most important motion pictures ever on par with “Citizen Kane,” “Gone with the wind,” “Casablanca,” and other classics, which serve as the ideals of movie making in their respective genres. Stunning visuals, interesting protagonists with deep characters, numerous historical accuracies, heart-wrenching beautiful music, and breathtaking camerawork – all of these elements make the film a must see no matter whether the person is interested in the ship or likes epic romance-disaster film. It is one of those cases when a person must see it at least once in a lifetime, because it is a deserved classic.
Rose DeWitt Bukater is an aristocrat travelling with her fiancée and her mother. She has to marry someone she does not love for the sake of accessing financing and saving her family’s financial situation. Jack Dawson is an artist, traveler, itinerant, opportunist, albeit with a kind heart. He ends up on the ship at the very last moment having won the tickets with his friends in a card game. They meet each other when Rose is trying to commit suicide being desperate about her hopeless situation. Jack happened to be laying near the rails and immediately tries to talk her out of it. He is immediately able to understand her: “What do you mean no I won’t? Don’t presume to tell me what I will, will not do! You don’t know me! – Well, you would of done it already.” After this night they start spending time together, and their relationship flourishes.
One of the pinnacles of the film is the episode when Rose undresses for Jack so that he would paint a nude portrait of her, just like “one of his French girls.” Jack remains professional throughout the entire process not trying to take advantage of the erotic situation. It is only later that their relationship is consummated in one of the cars situated in the storage area. They try to survive the catastrophe of the sinking ship and are one of the last remaining people on board as the stern goes underwater. Rose manages to climb on the piece of wood but Jack stays in water and freezes to death. Despite such an unfortunate resolution, Rose has enough strength to leave her fiancée and start a new life afresh. She kept her entire story with Jack a secret telling it only when the portrait was found during one of the underwater expeditions. “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets” – such is Rose’s assessment of her personality.
If the first time is dedicate to Rose and Jacks, the second half inadvertently concentrates on the sinking of the ship, trying to encompass brief glimpses of many people as possible, almost all of whom were real personalities. The film should be perceived as a rather historically accurate depiction of the ship’s sinking. There are only small deviations for the sake of additional drama such as 1st Officer Murdoch being more violent: “Will you give us the chance to live you limey bastard! – I’ll shoot any man who tries to get past me get back!” While it is understandable why certain elements were altered for the sake of additional drama and spectacle, these instances do not spoil the purist’s impression. Some episodes are recreated with painstaking accuracies such as the last known position of Thomas Andrews near the clock, the captain having his last stand at the steering wheel, Straus couple meeting their end laying together in bed, Bruce Ismay getting into the boat being a coward, and other little details, which would make a historian smile with approval.
The beauty of the film is that it barely relied on CGI, which had become quite advanced by the time. Huge sets were built for various aerial shots. A huge model of the ship was constructed and placed in the huge water reserve to make believable general shots. Interiors were recreated with painstaking precision using remaining photographs. The entire sternum was built with the ability to rotate into a vertical state, so all the people falling supposedly to their death are indeed stuntmen falling and rotating in the fall. All scenes of the sinking’s aftermath were filmed in real water. Cameron went for the faithful depiction of real things. That is why the film looks so visually enticing, believable, and downright beautiful at times. Combined with advanced camerawork, including shots of the real underwater Titanic, the film looks stunning and real at the same time, including no fake images. The music also occupies a special place in the film as James Horner managed to come up with memorable themes based on Scottish and Irish music thus reflecting Titanic’s British origin.
Titanic is a prime example of how any director should approach movie making. Cameron approached the story of the ship faithfully inserting the necessary elements with grace and skill. Without Rose and Jack the film would be a documentary akin to History channel offerings albeit with a huge budget. As a result, however, we have a film which strikes the viewers with beauty in each frame, tells a compelling story of two young people from completely different backgrounds falling in love with each other, as well as provides an all-encompassing look at the Titanic catastrophe and what an influence it was on the people who survived it.