Review of 'Titanic'

titanic.jpg A group of treasure hunters are diving on the wreck of the Titanic looking for rare necklace. When their best opportunity fails to recover the necklace they are approached by 84 year old Rose DeWitt Bukater (Gloria Stuart) who has been following their exploits on television. She tells them her previously untold story of her time aboard the Titanic on it's ill-fated maiden voyage. The young Rose (Kate Winslet) is from a family who has fallen on hard times so is engaged to the uptight Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) who she is marrying, encouraged by her mother, for money but not love. Berthed in first class, Rose meets the free-spirited young artist Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) who has won third class passage on the Titanic in a card game. She is intrigued by the young man who encourages her to enjoy life and they quickly fall in love. This relationship is not to be when the Titanic meets it's fate and we are treated to some of the most incredible scenes in motion picture history…

This film cost a fortune to make and it shows, looking absolutely amazing on the screen. The Titanic is faithfully reproduced in it's full splendour but also in it's terrible disaster. From the fabulous opulence of the first class compartments and dining areas to the crowded compartments of the third class decks below and the amazing inner-workings of the ship including the boiler room everything shown on the screen is utterly believable. The obvious intricacy of what you see on is such that you could swear they recreated the entire ship for the film (indeed, this accuracy is attested to by the numerous historians involved in the production). Because of the care taken by the filmakers, by the end we personally witness the true enormity of the sinking and what a horror it must have been to the passengers who rightly believed that such a thing could never happen. This is no longer a story in a book or newspaper, it is much more personal than that. It is refreshing that although much of this film is about spectacle we are never far from the tragedy and there is a great effort to keep us aware of the fact that these were real people that lost their lives. Indeed, much of the focus of the film is on these individual people we grow to know and relate to only to see them tragically killed. The mistake of previous films focusing on the great ship has been in showing the disaster much like a documentary but not making the story personal – It is this that “Titanic” does quite well.

I have to say I have never been convinced of the love story here which seems slightly jarring in the face of the overwhelming tragedy of the situation though it can be seen that this would help focus the viewer more precisely on the personal effect the disaster had. Rose and Jack's relationship feels cliched and contrived that risks diminishing the unfolding disaster though I acknowledge that perhaps with the chaos that ensues it helps us to focus on a single couple who we have grown to understand making their story much more personal to us so we do not simply get overwhelmed with the losses and lose the personal element.

An amazing piece of film making from a master of the big film told with a clear personal passion to tell the tragic story of the Titanic.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2019-11-17

Directed by: James Cameron

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox

Year: 1997

Length: 194 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films by James Cameron: