Dir: James Cameron
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane
Never before has a film had so much hype, received so much praise from viewers and critics and then been the target of such a backlash. Its crime seemingly being that everyone was sick of the sight of it.
Smaltz hadn’t seen this film for a long time so it was a good opportunity to come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes… and it’s spectacular. However, unlike recent disaster films, the spectacle of the tragedy isn’t everything.This is a film of substance.
The story is one of class distinction in the early twentieth century with Kate Winslet trying to get out of an almost arranged marriage and escape the world she belongs to. It’s a young carefree American (DiCaprio) who shows her another way to live, much to the horror of her mother and fiancé (Zane).
This manages to be engrossing to the point that when the iceberg is spotted it still catches you by surprise.The last hour is spectacular, but not at the expense of the human drama. Indeed it shows how good a director Cameron is that the horror of the situation is not lost.
Scenes such as a mother in 3rd class telling a story to her children as they sleep knowing they will never wake up and the string quartet realising they have nowhere to go so continue playing still make you shiver.
I’m going to stick my oar in dangerous water here by saying it manages to achieve the same level of scale with it’s story and tragedy as Kubrick's 2001 does with it’s visuals.
The quality throughout is superb with impeccable sets, an imaginative and effective score utilising synthetic choir sounds and despite some of the full scale shots of the ship in the first half not aging particularly well they do at least have a period painting look to them. Effects in the second half, however, are spot on!
Although Titanic leaves you with a feeling of loss for the main characters, the size of the real event is never lost.