Review: Titanic (1997)

titanic

I’m second guessing any future plans to go on a cruise, oh yes I am!

Written By: James Cameron
Directed By: James Cameron

At some point the R.M.S. Titanic is going to hit an iceberg and sink to the bottom of the ocean. I knew this, as did everyone else watching the film. James Cameron knew this as well, but he didn’t let this get in the way of his film. The most important moment in Titanic, for me at least, was the moment when the R.M.S. Titanic closed in on the deadly iceberg. Everyone watching the film knew what was going to happen, yet Mr. Cameron managed to create tension out of the ships approach towards its fate. I don’t really know how he did it, I can’t provide a detailed list of his filmmaking choices that led to that moment being filled with tension. The tension was there, as was the hope that maybe just maybe the ship would elude its fate. Foolhardy thinking for sure, but ultimately plausible thinking due to the way Mr. Cameron worked me over as a viewer of his film.

I will fully admit that I expected Titanic to be nothing more than a sappy love story. That is what most people have told me the film is for many years now. I’m glad I listened to them because it made the truth of what Titanic is pop even larger as the images from the film played out on my TV screen. Yes, Titanic is a romance, but it’s also an action film, a drama, and a tad heavy handed film about the dangers of class labels. Some elements work better than others, but the elements are present and they help to make Titanic a film that is much more than just one thing. I’m glad people told me for years that Mr. Cameron’s film was nothing more than a sappy romance, it made seeing it now more of an eye opening experience.

Speaking of said romance, I’m not sure why it bothers so many people so much. Sure, it’s melodramatic and over the top, but that’s not a bad thing within the framework of the film. Mr. Cameron tells the story of Titanic in such a way that over the top melodrama isn’t just expected it is welcomed into the room with wide open arms. This does make some of the story predictable, but this is balanced out by the other elements in the film like say, the action. In the end I bought the two leads falling in love and while it is over the top and somewhat sappy, that didn’t bother me or cause me to dislike the film in any way.

One of the areas where Mr. Cameron always impresses me is in his use of scope. He has increasingly made films that are epic in their content, their ambition, and their filmmaking. One of the things that separates Mr. Cameron from other epic film directors is his ability to consistently frame engaging action scenes. There is a about a forty minute sequence in the film where it’s all out action. It may even be a longer than forty minutes, I’m not sure. Either way the point is that in those forty minutes Mr. Cameron again shows his eye for jaw dropping and engaging action. His camera is expansive and his action is easy to follow while also being intricately designed and executed. I’m a sucker for well filmed action, and as usual Mr. Cameron has made me a very happy camper.

It took me a long time to get around to Titanic, but I’m happy that I finally did. Titanic is a great film, a well made big Hollywood production that works because it is so big. I’m not sure why Titanic has the bad rap that it does, but I enjoyed Mr. Cameron’s film. I knew the ship would sink, but I was enthralled by the picture all the same. Chalk up Titanic as an epic Hollywood film that captured me with its scope, wowed me with its ambition, and made me care because of the quality of its filmmaking. You can mark me down as a fan of Titanic, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing in the slightest.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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