By Kim Hollis
December 15, 2009
Thus, when Titanic finally made it to the $1 theater, I saw the movie on the big screen. I recall being impressed with the film's technical prowess but generally blah otherwise. I felt that there were so many real stories that could have been highlighted as opposed to the fictional love story at the movie's center. Titanic wasn't disappointing, exactly, but eight or nine months worth of hype had elevated my expectations to a degree.
Time has softened me toward the movie, though. Titanic is one of those films that I can watch any time it pops up on the HD movie channels. Whenever it does, I find myself thinking, "This is so much better than I remembered." It doesn't hurt that it still looks fantastic, but there are a lot of really nice little touches that occur throughout the movie that make it something special.
Still, I hadn't actually sat and watched the movie from beginning to end since that first day at the dollar theater. So, in advance of seeing Avatar in the theater this weekend (and I will be there; you can count on it), I sat through all three hours and 15 minutes of Titanic. And you know, I have to say I'm pretty fond of the movie overall.
There are many things worth admiring about the film. Much has been made over the years of the technical wizardry, and it is true that the sinking of the Titanic is a spectacle beyond compare. The movie immerses the viewer in the event, as we experience the ship's disaster right along with the characters in the film, from the instant the ship hits the iceberg to the moment the Carpathia arrives to assist the survivors.
To that point, I also think that Cameron's movie does a stellar job of showing the way that humans behave when beset with disaster. It's compellingly honest to see the very best and worst of behavior on display, and that bad behavior isn't limited just to the wealthy patrons of first class - nor are the steerage customers the only heroes (and it would have been all too easy to make it all about class warfare). Given how completely dire the situation is, I like that we're given snapshots of people who are disappointing as well as those who rise above their fears to help their fellow man.
Part of the reason that these qualities come across so clearly is thanks to some really fine acting (with an exception or two that I'll get to later). Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are at the center of the story as Jack and Rose, and both of them are extremely appealing in their roles. In the case of Jack Dawson, we're drawn to his roguish qualities, but there's some depth to his character that shows a young man constantly striving to find adventure and the very best in life. Even when he's looking death in the eye, he feels like he's experienced things to the fullest he can, and for that reason, he has no regrets. Rose, on the other hand, is stuck in an impossible situation, but does all she can to change her own circumstances - and in the end, she succeeds. Though a different actress might not have had the talent to play this role as anything better than a spoiled brat, in Kate's eyes we see a longing and desire that is undeniable.